A/N: Arda9/The Ninth Arda is the name I've chosen to give my AU world.

Disclaimer: That which looks as if it belongs to JRR Tolkien is most likely belonging to JRR Tolkien. I only own my own chars and some small plot points.

One:

Iluvatar sat back on his throne admiring the many spheres which floated untouching and separate within the blackness of the Void. He smiled. All actions, even his own, if not his own being, would split worlds from worlds. This was how in one world Melkor might never have fallen or perhaps he fell, but came back in truth to his brethren of his own accord or after his Chaining. Even the slightest change in decision set a new path and in turn brought about another world, a reflection, but just as real as its siblings. Worlds upon worlds, this was what Eru had allowed to happen. But naturally his Children, each world-group of them a mirror of the others, were unaware of this, and for their sanity, it was perhaps best kept thusly, in Iluvatar's opinion.

The sound of weeping, or the approximation of such an action floated into Eru's current mental focus. One of his Ainur, before the creation of that universe's reality, dwelling in the Timeless Halls was sad. He bent his will and perception thither and beheld a spirit of great strength, but of course not the greatest, but still great, hiding alone with a private unhappiness.

Eru perceived that another spirit joined the first.

"You are sad," this one intoned, concern in his light and the bending of his mind.

"Yavana wishes that I shall not sing with herself and Aule," the sad one intoned. "She accepts Curumo, but not me," the sad Ainu replied.

"Well," the sad Ainu's companion intoned with slight mirth, "Yavanna shall have to simply make room will she not?" The second Ainu grasped the first one and led her away from the empty place where she had been hiding and to where several of the other Ainur were assembled, Aule, Yavanna and Curumo amongst them.

Eru smiled to himself. "Ah Mairon," he laughed to himself. In this Arda anyway, the Ainu had been an ever present companion and friend to the sad Ainu, Moriel, or Azuburza as the Ainu would soon name her when they were alone. He would think none would know of his secret name for his closest friend but he would forget that Iluvatar knew all. The Creator smiled as he watched his children.

- - -

Yavanna turned to regard the two other Ainur as they approached the small group.

"You may not bring your friend everywhere you go, Mairon," she intoned in annoyance.

"She can sing of those things Eru has given to Aule in greatest strength as can I and Curumo," Mairon retorted hotly, ever being one to show little regard for those greater than he.

Moriel shrank back from Yavanna, sure the greater Ainu would insist she leave. She did not wish to, she wanted very much to sing at Mairon's side and even with Curumo, even though the two of them liked each other just about as much as Mairon and Yavanna did

Aule approached them his own fire burning a glorious dull red akin to the light given off by heated metal. "Let it lie Yavana," he said fondly. "If Eru has gifted Moriel with those songs that are akin to Mairon's and mine then who are you or any of us, to challenge his will?"

Yavanna's own green fire so much like leaves having been caught in the sunlight flared in anger for a moment before she sighed. "Very well, you are correct as usual, Aule."

Moriel took up position beside Mairon, his greater light, young and vigorous like that of a roaring fire compared to her own duller color much more like Aule's. Moriel always wondered if that meant anything, but for now she focused on the task at hand. Aule began the song, and Mairon, Moriel and Curumo took it up with him. They sang of stones and earth, of earthfire and the tang of molten metal; of the beautiful gems hidden in the earth's woom, though of course they new not of any of these things as yet.

Their conjoined song filled the great room in Eru's abode: Aule booming with the cavernous halls of new built mountains; Curumo a a slow moving lava rivulet; Moriel chiming with crystals reflecting soft tones from their faceted bejeweled sides; Mairon fiery golden notes a hammer striking on metal.

At a chosen moment, Yavanna and those lesser Ainur with her joined in, weaving songs of green growing things and blazing sunlight, wind shaking branches and roots digging deep into the earth Aule and his lesser Ainur sung.

For a long time the two songs intertwined, their paths having been given forth unto each great Ainu by Iluvatar. The Ainur involved were ensnared in the power and glory of their singing, almost touching, tasting, hearing, seeing and feeling all those things which would yet come of their songs in the future.

At last the song died away and the Ainur found themselves simply spirit-beings once more upon the glimmering surface of a chamber in the Timeless Halls. Moriel drifted closer to Mairon the lights of their spirits merging just slightly, fiery blazing yellow orange and deep red-orange.

"You see," Mairon said to Moriel, privately. "I should hope you are glad I insisted you take part?"

"Yes, Mairon," Moriel replied in the same private manner as Aule turned to regard them and Curumo who's light had shifted to one of displeasure.

"That was well done," he said simply. "Soon we shall sing the song before the feet of Iluvatar and I pray he shall be glad."

"Of course he will!" Mairon insisted aloud to everyone present. "We have worked so hard upon it!"

Moriel laughed, Mairon was ever one to be overly confident. At some point she had a feeling that this would cause trouble for him, but for now things were well. She had been permitted to sing with the other Ainur and not just Mairon, not that she did not love to sing just with him also. Mairon tugged at Moriel, the two beginning to drift away from the group.

"How touching," Curumo quipped as the other two Ainur move to depart. "When will we ever see the two of you apart?" he laughed, his own orange light shimmering with his not so kind mirth.

As fate would have it, Aule had moved away also, to speak with Yavanna and hadn't heard Curumo's remark. Mairon whirled about to face the other Ainu, quickly angered, his white hot fires bright.

Moriel would have tried to calm him, but there was little that would do so. Anything he might perceive as negative concerning Moriel never failed to infuriate him, as if Moriel were a reflection of himself in some strange way.

The ensuing conflict was laid to rest by the arrival of a bright presence, a presence so bright that he outshone all the other Ainur combined.

Curumo backed away from both Mairon and the new arrival just as Mairon too backed away, but closer toward Moriel.

"If the two of you possess so much passion when it comes to your disagreements you can put it to more profitable use," the voice which spoke blazed with power far greater than their own.

"Melkor," Mairon began, his regard sent up to the Ainu in blazing admiration.

"We are not yours, you have no call to command us," Curumo added his own distaste as Melkor seemed to tower over him.

"Perhaps you would like me to inform Aule?" Melkor began. Curumo shrank back his orange light flickering in earnest. "Or perhaps even Iluvatar?" there was a smile in the great Ainu's voice as he made this last statement. Curumo's light actually dimmed substantially until he was only a small flicker.

"What did you wish us to do, Melkor?" Moriel interjected, though privately she was glad to see Curumo so chastened.

"There is a thing I would have such brazen hearted spirits find for me," Melkor replied evenly. "I would not insist you go, but as Mairon will be going, I cannot object if you would go also." Moriel was delighted. This might be something fun, something new. Oh singing with Aule and the others was entertaining in its own way but it got monotone after awhile. The lesser Ainu wanted something exciting.

Melkor led the way to the very edge of the Timeless Halls where their pearlescence seemed to be at its dimmest and beyond that, the Void in all its black nothingness.

"I would bid you go forth and find a thing for me, out there," he spread himself wide, gesturing with his thought to the Void. "You will know when and if you run across it, as it will not be Void." He laughed good-naturedly.

Curumo shrank back from that empty expanse of nothing, but not too far as he would not show fear before Mairon and the latter's little tag-along.

Mairon too was wary but again, he too would not show any apprehension before Curumo and he knew Moriel would laugh and tell him it was just nothing, how could one fear nothing.

So Mairon, Curumo and Moriel journeyed away from the lighted solidity of Iluvatar's Halls and into the utter Darkness.