Author's Chapter Notes:

In this chapter, Melkor first encounters Varda, that great Ainu whom the Elves call Tintallë, the Star-kindler, and his desires and perceptions of her are revealed.

DISCLAIMER: I own none of these characters or places, and, save for a few original characters I have added, all these basically belong to Tolkien. I am merely taking delight in the things Tolkien had left for us to explore.

Varda's Choice

Standing alone atop a high place, Melkor looked down upon the lighted plains of the Timeless Halls, and beheld in envy the growing unity of the Ainur. And he sensed their powers and their thoughts come together as they made ever more wondrous music; and the beauty of their blended voices filled the places of the dwelling of Iluvatar with ever greater beauty and wonder.

But in the far distance Melkor saw Ulmo, that great Ainu whom Eru instructed most in the art of Music, and he gazed at him as Ulmo showed the other Ainur the thoughts of his own conjuring, and they in their joy enjoined his music with theirs, and the creation made by their woven thoughts filled them with boundless joy and delight, and ever they made more astounding Music.

And seeing all this, Melkor grew all the more envious, for he could not suffer to hear and see such remarkable things manifest themselves from thoughts other than his. And he shut his thoughts from them, imposing a wall of silence between him and the other Ainur, a silence of which only he can hear.

But he strained his thoughts to them, as he now earnestly searched for Ungwelian, hoping perhaps to sense a hint of her thoughts. But he found her not; and he wondered what had become of her. For ever since Ungwelian had departed for the Void, no sign or thought had he felt from her, and for too long now he had pondered of her fate. Could it be that she had gotten lost in the Void? And this he now feared the most, not out of genuine concern, for never had he felt such a thing to any of his kin, let alone to one such as her, whom he utterly despised. In fact, it troubled him not if indeed she had gotten lost in the unfathomed wastes of the Void. Rather, Melkor feared that by some strange chance Ungwelian had already stumbled upon the Flame Imperishable, but that because she understood nothing of it (he from the start never having revealed to her his true intent in drawing her out into the Void), had opted instead to ignore it. And, being driven by the intense desire to allay her discontent over the Light, had chosen thus to remain in the Void, never to return.

This now troubled him greatly. And his impatience over the uncertainty of his designs made the voices of the other Ainur seem like a clamorous play of countless uncoordinated instruments; and he saw no beauty in their work, lest perhaps the same thoughts had come from him. For now he saw beauty only from his own narrow perspective, and all else outside of it he deemed unlovely.

But even as Melkor sought to shut out the thoughts of the others, he sensed another thought come behind him. And he turned now to look upon the owner of this new and unwelcome thought, and saw that it was none other than Varda herself. Varda it was among the Ainur who had taken the greatest interest in furthering the beauty of the Light in the Timeless Halls, and she it was who was deemed to be the fairest in all their kindred. And indeed she was beautiful, for even to an Ainu such as him, words failed to define her resplendent beauty. For in her face he saw a trace of that all-encompassing light that could only be gleaned from the eye of Iluvatar, and hers was less glorious only in so far as it did not come from Eru himself.

Yet in all the countless ages they had dwelt together in the Timeless Halls, never had he spoken to her in person. Rather, he had contented himself by looking at her from afar, for he both desired and feared her presence. But in spite of this, he was ill-composed towards her, for he sensed that despite the cloak he had veiled over himself, he felt that her thoughts could still pierce through him, right into his most guarded secrets. And before her radiant eyes, he felt himself naked and bare.

But now Varda said to him: "I see you have chosen to dwell alone, as you always have."

But Melkor did not answer. And Varda, seeing that he watched the other Ainur as they took delight in the midst of their creative harmony, said to him: "Such beauty made from their woven thoughts, and yet still, so much more is possible. Do you not see the wonder of the gifts Eru had bequeathed to us?"

"Yes, clearly that I can see," Melkor replied coldly.

Then Varda asked him: "Will you not join with the others?"

And Melkor, being filled with pride, answered her. "Nay. I have my own thoughts to matter, and to me that is more than enough." Then, turning to face her, he said: "But I wonder what brought you thus, here in these lonely places. Should you not rather be concerning yourself in furthering the light of this place?" And beneath his voice was a touch of sneer, to which he hardly concealed.

But Varda heeded this not, and she said: "I see that you deem yourself mighty, for clearly I can see that you take great pride in the peerless match of your power. But some things, Melkor, can only be accomplished through one's blending of thoughts with another. For even had you been many times greater than you are now, still you would not be able to accomplish such things, unless you join with the others."

But to this, Melkor only laughed. "And I see as well that you wish my power to be made more useful by weaving them with the rest," he said. "But this I say to you, Varda: some things there are as well that can only be accomplished had one worked alone, for there are thoughts that can only be brought into being to their utmost glory had they not been touched by the thoughts of another."

To this Varda did not answer, but Melkor perceived that in spite of his retort, there was truth in all her words, and he was forced to rethink his frame of mind. And so it was that even as he struggled with his own perceptions, a new thought came to him. For her saw that Varda was indeed mighty among his kindred, and that she might as yet prove useful in his designs. And he pondered the thought of having her beside him, standing mighty above the rest. And he sought now to draw her into his fold.

So Melkor said to her, "But you, Varda, have sought more than any of us to further the beauty of this place. Such a waste it would be if your thoughts were to be simply woven with the others. For though they are Ainu like us, they possess not the power to bring into being the devices we have conjured in our minds, for they are but the lesser among us."

And Melkor came closer to her, and when he was near enough, he said, "Yet I see that you have so much beauty to bring forth into being. And thus, would it not be better if the devising of your thoughts were to be woven with mine?" And so did Melkor, in his desire to draw unto his circle another of the great among their kindred, had thus negated his own retort.

But now he said: "See now, Varda. In doing so, we would be able to accomplish more things than any of us ever did. For am I not Melkor? Yes, and even more so than Manwe, whom you had most often spoken to."

But Melkor, in his pride over his own might, and in his scorn over Manwe, had hit a chord deeper than he intended, and in his cunning he overdid himself. And so it was that Varda, in her penetrating wisdom, saw through the veil that Melkor had cast over himself, and seeing past this she saw through the depths of Melkor's heart, and there saw something she had not yet seen among any of the Ainur, for underneath the radiant Light that burned at the heart of his being grew the shadow of a gnawing Darkness, dark and dreadful. Seeing this now, all his thoughts and desires were laid bare before her, and her foresight warned her of all the terrible ills that would come to pass through this mighty Ainu, and in fear and abhorrence she rejected him.

And she said to him: "Nay, Melkor. Too long you have sought to sway the thoughts of the others to suite your own ends. But this last I will say to you, Melkor: though many may indeed listen to you, not all will follow you. Do what you will, for none will hinder you. But as for me, no part I will have in your designs. Nor would I lend any ear or thought to you again, now that I have seen what it is that burns in your heart."

And to this, Varda departed, and from then on, no word or thought did she ever lend to him again.

Then Melkor was indeed ashamed, and he felt himself deeply humiliated, for never had he been made to suffer the shame of rejection, much less from those whom he perceived as beneath him.

But now, standing alone before the sound of the ever growing voices of the Ainur, he felt himself ever more excluded and alone. Yet he was still Melkor, mightiest among their kindred. And in his heart, he saw not yet his chance to draw the other Ainur to his fold. They too will have their time, he thought. For in his mind, all have their rightful time, even her, she who had so daringly rejected him.

But now, Melkor strained his thoughts to the multitude of Ainur that sang in the far distance. And amidst their sea of rippling voices, against the flow and flowering of their thoughts, his mind strained to dissect their blended voices. And from among the countless variant sounds, he singled out a voice above all the rest; for though his song was neither the greatest nor the most creative, in his voice Melkor heard there a sound that yearned for order, and structure, and loyalty. And there, he will find something that will have far greater use for him than Ungwelian ever did. For in him, Melkor found at last what he was looking for.