And here's the last chapter, which I thought would be the shortest of all but ended up being the longest by far.
Some warnings as usual: violence, torture, PORN (well, kind of), and Melkor being a complete bastard.
There's slash in this one (at this point you know who x who, right?)
Many thanks to all my readers and reviewers this far, both registered users and guests. And many special thanks to Zlu and Luff for all their support and promoting, and because I think they've spent more time correcting the previous chapters than I myself ;)
This story continues in my other fic "The Lords that Fell", also in this site.
Chapter 4. Pulsation
For what seemed to have been nearly three ages, Sauron had remained locked in the narrow gap in the wall. Three ages during which he hadn't even had the company of a chain, or of the hard flagstones of the wall, since he didn't have a body to feel them stabbing at his backbone.
Deprived of all senses, the only thing that he saw and heard inside his head was Melkor repeating over and over how very disappointed he was with him.
To the point that, when the stones that enclosed him were removed one day to let in the light, and the tall dark figure of Melkor rose in front of the hole, Sauron thought at first that it was again the same persistent image of his memories.
But this Melkor didn't look at him with angry eyes, nor expressed his disappointment. If anything, one could say that his eyes reflected some discomfort, that his gaze was somehow elusive, and thus Sauron knew that the image before him was real, and not a product of his memory.
Melkor ordered the Orcs that had opened the wall to withdraw, and once alone, face to face with his lieutenant again, he gave him back his body, clothes and sword.
Sauron knelt before his master in gratitude. And when Melkor offered his hand, he kissed it with unusual eagerness, since that was the first thing he touched in a long, long time.
Now, the flesh and bones that covered his spirit seemed to him strangely heavy, they almost oppressed him. But he got used to them quickly, and the heat that provided, and the strength, and the contact with the world were welcomed with satisfaction.
Sauron stood in front of Melkor; the face of the Vala was expressionless.
-How long has it been, my Lord?
-It seemed much more to me.
-And yet, it has been much less. –sighed Melkor, and motioned to him to come his way.
While touring the undergrounds of Angband, he filled him in everything that had happened during his imprisonment:
-The years are shorter since the Valar raised that hideous fireball in the sky. Everything ages faster, everything disappears faster, as if time had been compressed. And the lesser children of Ilúvatar, the men, who awoke with the new light, have suffered the same fate as the other things. Their lives are so fleeting that they barely suffice them to do anything worthwhile; one moment they're here, and the next moment they're gone, in a blink. However, during these years I've been sending emissaries to the East to speak to them about me, so they know the true god of Arda and worship me, because even if they are despicable creatures, I prefer to have them on my side rather than on the one of those nasty Elves. Especially now that the Noldor proliferate everywhere. Oh, Sauron, if you had seen it! They have founded kingdoms here and there, in the South, in the East, in the West, and even in hidden places that nobody knows. In Arda, in MY Arda!
-It's a shame, my Lord.
-Yes, a shame ... –murmured Melkor. Sauron glanced at his master. There was something strange about him, as some kind of hot tension enveloping his body, as a magnetic field vibrating around him. And his vital flow was so palpable, it was almost obscene. However, the Vala continued talking, oblivious to these reflections of his lieutenant: -Because of all this, I've decided to pay a short visit to the men of Hildórien, to those primitive beasts, so they can see me in all my glory and fall to their knees before me. Then they will be loyal to me forever, and no Elf will be able to corrupt them. Meanwhile I nee ... uh ... I want you to stay in charge of Angband and command the legions in my absence. That's the only reason I brought you out of the hole, and not because I have forgiven you. Keep it clear.
Sauron scratched his head, unsure of having heard right.
-One moment, my Lord. Dost thou mean that thou art going to "personally" visit those men? That thou art going to leave Angband?
Melkor stopped short, and folded his arms a little bit offended.
-Of course I'm going to personally visit them! How could the Secondborn contemplate my majesty if I didn't!?
-But ... what about sunlight?
The Vala made a dismissive gesture with his hand.
-Bah! Do not think that all this time that you have been inactive I haven't done anything. I got used to that light already. It's disgusting, yes, but I can endure it. The Valar, once again, have failed in their attempts to restrain me.
-Even so, my Lord, let me accompany thee on thy journey to the East. Any other captain can stay in charge of Angband.
Melkor felt very irritated by the tone of concern that he noticed in the words of his lieutenant.
-No, I'll go alone! Without you, without Balrogs, and without Orcs. I don't need an escort, the world is mine, the world is part of me! What could possibly happen?
Sauron chose to change the subject quickly. Anyway, Melkor was right. What could befall to him, that some trolls of the forest kidnapped him? He should be glad that his master had recovered the confidence to go outside, instead of worrying about imaginary dangers.
-All right, my Lord, then I will go to the barracks of the Orcs and start organizing the troops. I'm sure they'll be very happy to see me again. -he smiled, with a malicious twinkle of his left eye, and began to climb the stairs towards the main gate of the fortress.
But the hand of Melkor on his shoulder stopped him.
-Hmmm ... Sauron, I don't think that you will want to go outside over there...
The lieutenant blinked puzzled, and the sombre expression of his master gave him a very bad feeling. The Vala then took him to one of the highest towers, and made him look through a narrow window that overlooked the plain of Ard-galen, in the South.
What Sauron saw out there seemed so shocking to him, that at first he wanted to believe that it was just a mirage: Rows and rows of Noldorin warriors were deployed across the plain and got lost in the horizon, amid a sea of tents and banners that glowed with blue, golden and silver glitters under the blazing midday Sun. It was the enemy army, and it was there a few meters from them, rising defiantly in front of the very gates of Angband.
They were surrounded, no!, sieged, definitely sieged.
Sauron's vision blurred, and he felt the recently recovered strenght of his body failing him for a moment.
-But what ... What happened here, my Lord!?
Melkor moved away from the small window, elusive, and bit his lower lip with reluctance to answer.
-There was recently a battle and ... Well, the Noldor have called it the "Glorious Battle", with the insolence that characterizes them, and let's say that ... Well, it was a somewhat unfavourable battle for us.
-Somewhat unfavourable!? My Lord, we are surrounded! How could something like this happen? Our army was the largest and most powerful of all Middle Earth, how is it possible that a handful of Elves have defeated us in such a shameful way, and on top of that have started a siege without anyone preventing it!? Who has been in charge of the war, so that a disaster like this has taken place?
Melkor shot a murderous look at him, and Sauron realized that he had spoken too much. Obviously, it was Melkor himself who had led the campaign, which was tantamount to saying that organization and strategy were conspicuous by their absence. For though the Vala was an expert in causing volcanic eruptions, for example, not all things in the world followed the same logic than volcanoes. And war was one of those things. War, despite what some might believe, was a science, not an art.
Realizing all this, Sauron could not help feeling some perverse satisfaction deep down in his heart, even when he sicerely regretted what had happened.
His master had tried to dispense with his services and this had led him to utter defeat, so now Melkor had no choice but to admit that he "needed" his lieutenant. And even if he, of course, would never admit it aloud, the truth was that he knew it well inside of him, and this was the actual reason for releasing him.
Viewing his master so ashamed now, meant a petty revenge for Sauron, that compensated him for the unfair punishment he had suffered for so long.
-How dost thou plan to leave the fortress for thy journey, my Lord, if we are surrounded? -he asked, with undisguised malice.
-Through a tunnel we dug, that goes to the North. There are no Noldor there, and we're also protected by the mountains. By taking a detour one can easily go anywhere, and that is the path our troops and spies follow now. Do not think that I don't have alternative plans for any eventuality, Sauron. -Melkor approached the little window again, and peered nervously at the enemy army.– Look at them camped over there, conspiring against me! In a while they'll start throwing stone blocks at us with their catapults. They do it every day. But don't worry, Sauron, if they harass us, you only need to send them a cloud of poisonous smoke from the peaks of Thangorodrim, and watch how they suffocate like insects. Anyway, I'm leaving now. You are responsible for the fortress, and it's better that when I come back I don't find it as ruinous as the last time I was absent.
With that said, the Vala went to the entrance of the tunnel, and Sauron accompanied him to bid him farewell and wish him luck on his journey.
-I don't need luck, stupid! Luck is for the weak. –growled Melkor, as he pushed the heavy slab that covered the secret entrance.
-At least allow me to give thee some advice, my Lord: While thou walkst on the outside, thou couldst stay disembodied. That way thou wilt travel faster, and nobody will know that thou hast left thy throne. If the enemies learn that thou art absent in Angband, they may initiate an unexpected offensive, and without thee by our side we'll be vulnerable.
Sauron had carefully chosen his words so this time, even while worrying about the welfare of his master, it gave the impression that it was actually for his own welfare that he feared. Melkor's mood softened a bit, feeling flattered.
-Don't worry, I'll disembody myself and no Elf will see me. You don't need to feel insecure without your Lord.
But nonetheless, Melkor entered the tunnel still covered by his physical body, and Sauron raised an eyebrow with suspicion.
-My Lord, wert thou not going to ...?
-What, in front of you!? Don't even dream about it! I will disembody when no one is watching me, of course. Now farewell! -and he closed the tunnel again, disappearing behind the large stone slab.
Sauron sighed. He was left again as the main responsible for the fortress, and this time, accompanied by the numerous hordes of the Noldor.
Perhaps he wasn't so bad inside that dark hole, after all.
"I hope that this time he won't be absent for three ages as well. And that when he comes back, there won't be any monstrosity from the exterior void eating him. As much as it pains me to admit it, Melkor has an undeniable talent for getting into trouble."-he cursed, as he headed to the deeper levels of Angband.
There, in the suffocating chambers of the furnaces, was where the Orcs had been relocated. An unfortunate choice of accommodation, as the heat was too much for the creatures, and left them weak and numb. A few Balrogs swarmed around as well, whipping some wayward Orc from time to time. And in the background, under the great vaults, Sauron could see the huge body of Glaurung, monstrously grown since the last time he saw him, and that now rested quiet with a chain around his neck, sending clouds of sulfur through his nostrils.
The faces of the bystanders showed very little joy upon discovering that the lieutenant was again on active service. And many of the Orcs who had mocked him when Melkor dragged him by the neck, lowered their heads now, trying to hide their faces from him. However, in spite of their dissimulation, the poor wretches felt the burning gaze of the eye stabbing at them. And everyone knew what that meant.
Gothmog was inspecting one of the furnaces, and upon feeling the cold breeze that had just entered the chamber, turned around in surprise. Then he saw the black figure that he had hoped not to see ever again.
-Gorthaur ...-he gritted between his teeth, and approached him in a threatening cloud of sulfides. Sauron gave him a crooked smile, and one of his fangs gave off a mocking gleam.
-I'm glad to see you again, Gothmog.
-Really? I was more glad the last time I saw you, Sauron: naked and enclosed in a wall. But I guess you have missed me inside that hole, didn't you?
-Not as much as ye have missed me, so it seems. –and Sauron gestured with his arm to point at the scene around.- I disappear for a few years and everything falls apart. Ye are a bunch of good-for-nothings.
Gothmog became a little ignited at this, and the flames that surrounded him acquired a blue tone for an instant, but still he restrained his anger.
-I get the impression that Melkor has released you too early, lord lieutenant. Sixty years haven't been enough to improve your attitude.
-Sixty years haven't been enough to improve your smell either, dear Gothmog.
This time the Balrog reached for the whip, his patience having finally run out with the affronts of his rival, but Sauron stopped his arm.
-Watch out what you are going to do. You are now before the commander in chief of Angband. Melkor has left me in charge temporarily, so you won't want to make me angry, right?
-I want to hear that from the lips of our master Melkor himself!
-Unfortunately, our master Melkor is not here to confirm it, since he has gone to the East, to visit those "Secondborn".
Gothmog shook his huge head in disbelief.
-Impossible! The master never leaves the fortress.
-Well, he has. He just left in a hurry, almost secretly, without even waiting for the Sun to set ... -and while Sauron said this, a sudden thought came into his mind, a thought that unsettled him.
Grabbing Gothmog by the arm, he dragged his heavy mass to a separate corner, where they were safe from prying ears, and then confessed the idea that had just occurred to him:
-Listen, Gothmog, I was thinking ... What if Melkor hasn't really gone to visit the men? What if he has gone away forever and has abandoned us here in Angband, on our own, once lost all hope of breaking the siege?
The eyes of the Balrog widened in astonishment, and from his dropped jaw emerged a cloud of stupefaction.
-No, no, no, that cannot be! The master would never leave us stranded. He is our Lord, he can't do that!
Sauron looked down, and felt a great pain when he pronounced the following words:
-He is Melkor. If there's someone who can do whatever he wants, that's him.
The Balrog and the lieutenant exchanged glances, and each of them saw the same fear and the same doubt reflected in the other's eyes.
Nonetheless, Melkor had headed indeed to the East, and during the rest of the day, he swept across plains, climbed mountains, descended valleys and traversed forests, with the persistent light of the Sun chasing him all the time.
With the arrival of dusk he halted a moment and sighed with relief. The skin of his bare hand showed some red marks of burns, and he imagined that his face would look the same. But they would soon disappear, and also, he had managed to reach Hildórien just during sunset, as planned.
In the green valley that lay at his feet, he saw the miserable huts of human settlements. And there, on a hill, and with the dying rays of the Sun lighting him up from behind, he spoke to the astonished congregation of men, in all his black and terrible majesty.
Those poor creatures fell to their knees before him, and worshiped him fearful, unable to resist the sparkle in the eyes of Melkor, and almost hurt by his divine presence and the glow of the Silmarils.
Melkor grinned and watched them for a while. Apparently, the rumours were true: to make the Secondborn, Eru had mixed all the other races of Arda into one. Indeed, some of those men had the demeanor of Elves, and were almost as beautiful as them. Others, however, were ugly and grotesque like Orcs. And in general, all of them were covered with hair, both the men and the women, like dwarves, and some even sported bushy beards.
"Hum! They have hairs even on their legs and arms. Such coarse beings! Clearly, Eru only created them in order to feel superior to them. How can a god be so petty and self-conscious?" -pondered the Vala.
Then, a shrill cry pulled him out of his thoughts:
- Oh, mighty god Melkor, creator of the earth and the skies, of the seas and the mountains, of the Sun and the Moon, accept this sacrifice that we have prepared for thee!
A woman with untidy and disheveled hair was the one who cried thus, and drove before him a plump and rosy animal that Melkor had never seen before.
Two men made a pyre with logs on which they placed the animal, and once there, killed it by opening its throat with a knife. The beast screamed and kicked horribly, and the logs became soaked with its blood.
After this, the men brought torches, set fire to the pyre, and the flames soon spread over the corpse and started consuming its flesh.
A nauseating smell of melted fat and scorched skin rose to the nostrils of Melkor, and he felt his stomach churning. Just in case that wasn't enough, the men put out the fire after a few minutes, cut a piece of smoking meat, and offered it to the Vala for eating.
Melkor didn't understand anything. Why did these humans believe that he, precisely he that was a god, would need to eat that?
Of course, Melkor had tasted food and drink on more than one occasion, and had discovered that they gave him a pleasant feeling in the mouth. But they had also caused him other effects in the organism after a while, less pleasant effects, so he didn't use to indulge in those pleasures anymore. And in any case, if he had to indulge in them, he would rather do it with something better than a piece of burnt and undercooked meat.
Thus, he dismissed the sacrifice with a gesture of his hand, although he was pleased by the cruelty of those men, who hadn't found a better way to show him their love, than killing a poor and defenseless animal.
Seeing that the god didn't accept the sacrifice, a murmur of concern and disputes rose among the humans, who feared having offended the Vala and having earned with it the eternal damnation. Quickly, another group of ragged men drove before him the idol they had made to worship him, and asked for mercy.
Melkor laughed to himself upon seeing the crude idol made with branches, that was intended to represent him: they had put four arms on it, some kind of horns on its head, and what seemed to be bat wings. No doubt, the emissaries that he had sent to the East had made a very imaginative description of their Lord.
Now some of the humans began to sing songs of praise, that one couldn't say if were directed to him or to the idol, and Melkor started getting bored.
-Men, be still for a moment and listen to the god of Arda! -he shouted, raising his arms and giving off a brief flash of fire- I didn't come here to receive gifts from you, but just the opposite. I'm here to grant you all your wishes, to free you from the yoke of your enemies and those who oppress you, the Elves! Ye must not trust them, men, they are blasphemous beings that have rejected me, Melkor, the Mighty Arising, and instead worship false gods. The Elves envy and hate you, because they know that I love you and not them. I ask you only this: that ye are always faithful to me and turn away from the Elves, that ye make war to them wherever they are and that ye show no mercy. If ye do so, I will give you everything ye want, because I'm a very generous god.
The crowd got excited upon hearing this offer, and there were many who began to beg:
-God Melkor, protect us from diseases! -asked an old man.
-I will protect you from them.
-And make our crops abundant and our livestock fertile! -shouted a man from the back rows.
-I will save you from hunger too.
-And drive the cold and frost out of our land. Make the Sun shine even more brightly! -cried a little girl.
-Yes, I will also make the Sun shine more... -promised Melkor, biting his tongue in annoyance at having to say that.- I'll give you everything! But remember, only if ye fight the evil Elves. And now be attentive, because I will choose one of you and bring him with me to my palace in the North, built on the clouds, where he'll be blissful forever!
In saying this, everyone was struck dumb and held his breath, eager to be the chosen one. In the silence that fell over the valley, one could almost hear the beating of hundreds of hearts that waited impatiently the decision of the god.
Melkor looked over the glances of all of them and searched their souls.
No matter that he looked at a pair of blue or brown or green eyes, he always saw the same thing: superstitious fear and reverence. None of those interested him.
But then he met a pair of gray eyes, and he discovered something new in them: besides the fear and adoration common to his kind, he also perceived a deep love, and purity of intent, and some ambition.
Just the perfect qualities to turn the corruption of the individual into a funny issue.
Melkor gestured for the subject to come closer, and he approached him trembling, and went up the hill next to the Vala. Melkor bent over him, and the man stepped back dazzled by the Silmarils, but the black eyes of the god pierced him and he was rooted to the spot. An imperceptible smile crept into the pale lips of the Vala; the chosen man was of rather delicate complexion, neither very young nor very old, and more beautiful than repulsive.
Melkor stroked his face lightly with his uncovered hand, and the man shuddered at the touch of his fingers. Especially because he had felt the caress in the soul, not the skin.
-Tell me, little creature, would you like to come with me? Would you like to enjoy a life a hundred times longer than that of the other men, and elude death and old age for many years, and spend those years in the company of a god? -Melkor's voice broke into the ears of the man with velvety softness, even more gentle than the caress that ran inside of him. How could he resist?
The man knelt before him and kissed the hem of his robe.
-Yes, my lord and master Melkor, the only true god of Arda! Take me with thee and dispose of my body and my soul as thou pleasest. I will serve thee forever.
Then two women, the elderly mother of the man and his sister, begged Melkor to let them bid farewell to him, and he granted their wish. The women embraced the man with tears in their eyes, partly of sadness at his departure, and partly of deep joy at the grace that had been given to their son and brother.
They hugged for a long time, until Melkor grew impatient, itching to return to Angband, and pulled his new servant away from the arms of the women. He then dismissed his followers, promising to send them emissaries once in a while, wrapped the chosen one in his cloak of darkness, and disappeared into the shadows, just as the last rays of the Sun sank below the horizon.
If the way out was quick and easy, the way back, burdened as he was with that creature, became extremely tiring for Melkor.
No matter how much he urged him to speed up: as soon as he became a little bit distracted, the human was left far behind, lost in the lush grove of the tangled forest, or sunk in a swamp, and Melkor had to go back to search for him. Also, every so often he had to stop so the creature could eat and rest, and thus the trip threatened to turn neverending.
In former times, Melkor could have turned into a light beam and transport him wherever he wanted in just an instant. But now he was limited by a pair of legs as well, and he certainly was not going to carry the human in his arms. He would rather leave him to die abandoned in some wasteland.
However, since they had gone already a long way towards Angband, Melkor decided to be patient and finish the trip with the loot, better than without it. That way, when the peaks of Thangorodrim and the rampart of the Iron Mountains were cut at last before them, two and a half weeks had passed.
The man looked confused at the steep walls and the black fortress excavated in the roots of rock. And fear seized him when the three peaks expelled a cloud of smoke and ash, and the ground trembled, shaken by flowing magma.
An icy hand touched his neck, and the voice of Melkor caused him an even greater shudder than the one that went through the mountains:
-What is it, my little servant? Don't you like Angband, the kingdom of your god? -the man raised his eyes with an interrogative expression.
-Angband? My Lord, I thought thou livedst in a palace built over the clouds and full of light.
Melkor's laughter froze his marrow.
-Did I say that? Well, what I meant is that I lived inside an underground fortress of cold stone and stifling heat, where light never comes. That I meant, I hope I didn't disappoint you. -and the ice finger entered his vertebrae and went across his entire spine.
When Melkor burst in the fortress with his new toy, everyone felt a huge relief. Although Sauron had only confessed his fears to Gothmog, the suspicion that Melkor would never return had spread quickly among the other captains and troops, so seeing his master again took away a bitter burden from them. And not just because he hadn't abandoned them, but also because that meant that Sauron's leadership came to an end.
The lieutenant still resented them since the day they locked him inside the wall, and had retaliated by putting the Orcs to work at top speed in the outer fortifications, with the excuse of better defending the fortress against catapults. With Melkor back in charge, the wretches harboured the hope that the hard works would soften a little, or rather, that they would fall into oblivion.
A guard of Orcs and Balrogs came to greet the just arrived master, and between the uniform rows of soldiers Sauron stepped forward and bowed down to him as welcome, giving him a brief report of what had happened during his absence.
Then he noticed the insignificant being that was half hidden behind the robe of Melkor, and came closer with curiosity to examine him. The human seemed intimidated by that uneven stare and the sharp fangs, bared in a grin.
-I suppose this is one of the Secondborn, isn't it, my Lord? -Melkor nodded, and pushed the human forward, so everyone could see him well. Sauron took a look at him from different angles and under his clothing, which disturbed the creature.- There's nothing special about him. He looks rather as an ugly Elf. -he concluded.
Gothmog approached as well to observe the human closely, but upon seeing the huge body of the demon looming over him, and his black mouth exhaling vapours against his face, the man curled up on the floor terrified and covered his eyes. The guttural laughter of the Balrog made him tremble even more.
-Look at him, Gorthaur! He's more frightened by me than by you.
-That's because he can recognize a horrendous face when he sees it.
Gothmog uttered an obscene curse between his teeth, and then, turning to Melkor he asked:
-What's the name of this being, my Lord?
Melkor made a gesture of indifference.
-I don't know. I don't remember. Brum, son of Grum. Or Bront, son of Tront ... All of them are called the same, does it matter?
Then the man looked up shyly, and addressing the Vala, he muttered with humility:
-My Lord Melkor, my name is Gra ...-but he couldn't finish the sentence, because Melkor struck his face, and he fell to the ground.
-Silence, you scum! Names are reserved for Orcs and for some animals. You are beneath them, so you won't need any name in Angband! -he roared angrily.
The man remained on the ground, staring stunned at the blood dripping from his nose, unable to believe what had just happened. The god that he worshiped, whom he had entrusted his life, had beaten him for no reason, and now the panic began to creep through his veins, slowly, like a stream of frost.
Sauron and Gothmog were also surprised. Melkor almost never resorted to physical violence personally, let alone for an offense that wasn't even that, since the human hadn't disrespected him so far. In fact Melkor, as the god he was, had always despised brute force, considering it something typical of Orcs and trolls, or even worse, of Tulkas himself.
That's why, seeing now his master beating an inferior being for no apparent reason, seemed very strange to their captains ... strange and gratuitous.
That slap was the definitive warning for the human guest, that his stay in Angband wouldn't be accompanied by the infinite bliss and unearthly joy that he had expected at first. However, Melkor kept his promise in part, and granted the man a longevity far beyond the usual of his race, and slowed the decay of his flesh to the point that he seemed to never grow old, or at least do it very slowly.
Of what nobody had warned him, was that along with the gift of a long life, the corruption of the Dark Lord would also enter his soul, and that this would have such visible effects on his body. From overnight, the hair which had been raven-black, fade to gray, and both hairs and colour disappeared completely from his skin, leaving behind a bloodless and cold surface. His eyes became bloodshot and his lips, black as his tongue and nails, retracted to show a beast-like set of sharp and yellow teeth.
Horrified by these changes, the human turned up before the throne of Melkor, on his knees, and wept bitterly, appealing to the clemency of the Vala to give him back his original appearance and let him return with his kin. But Melkor laughed aloud:
-Unhappy creature! I've tied you to me with stronger ties than those of the flesh, stronger than those that tie you to the other men. And those are ties that nothing and no one but me can undo. You will live as long as I dispose, and you will die when I dispose. And your life will pass according to my whims. Why do you want, anyway, that I give you your human semblance back? Did you pretend to find a wife here in Angband? There's no love between these walls! But if you ever complain again about your luck, I will deliver you to my hordes of Orcs for you to become the wife of them all. No doubt, they will find you still desirable...
Then, upon seeing the brief spark of lust in the eyes of the Vala, and the evil smile that began to take shape in the corner of his mouth, the human fled in terror and dared not to approach him again.
From that day on, he crawled through the darkest corners of the fortress, trying to hide from the Orcs and monsters that tormented him at every turn.
And he was very miserable.
In that way found him Sauron the day he went down to the armory: cowering in a corner among the spears and dusty shields, sobbing with no consolation and no noise.
The lieutenant stood in front of him and stared for a while.
-Why are you crying? –he finally asked, with curtness.
-Because I'm alone. Because I miss my family, my beloved mother, my sweet and beautiful sister. And because it's always cold in here, and I find nothing but pain around me. –he said between hiccups, trying to control himself in vain. Then he added:- And because I don't understand.
-What do you not understand?
-I don't understand why the god Melkor created us just to make us suffer later. Why does he do this to me, if I am his son? Why does he hate me so much? -the human covered again his disfigured face with his hands, and Sauron half-smiled wryly .
-He does it because he didn't create you. It was Eru, so it is he whom you have to complain to. He brought you into this world deceived, and Melkor has simply shown you just how bitter life actually is.
The man looked at him with wet and confused eyes.
- Eru? Who is Eru? The god Melkor told us that he had created the humans.
-Of course he said so...
The creature waited a moment for the lieutenant to give him a clearer explanation, but he stayed impassive. Sighing with grief upon understanding the deception, the human lowered his head resigned, and a new tear began to form on the edge of his eyes. Then he heard the sound of approaching boots and a black cape waved before him, sending a blast of cold air on his face.
Some fingers, icy like the touch of death, brushed his cheek and wiped the tears that fell across it. It was the first time that someone touched him with softness since he had arrived in the fortress, and even when the caress caused him comfort and terror in equal measure, he wanted it to last a little longer.
-It's a cold, hard, and ruthless world, isn't it? –whispered the lieutenant with cruel gentleness.- Ye men aren't made for it. No, ye are flowers of a single day. In the morning ye awake covered in dew, at noon ye blossom, and in the evening ye give off your perfume and think ye will last forever. But with the coming of dusk ye have withered already, and your gray and dry petals begin to fall off. When night comes, nothing remains of you but a blackened stem. And the next day no one remembers you anymore. -Sauron picked up one of the tears with his finger and watched it with indifference, before dissolving it between his thumb and forefinger, and then he added:- I've heard that many of your women die upon bringing new offspring to the world. Tell me, is there anything more futile than that, is there anything more comical and tragic? Your race will not last long on Middle Earth. In a hundred years, ye will have disappeared with no doubt. How could ye thrive, ye with your ridiculous existences, in a world populated by gods, by immortal Elves, by bloodthirsty Orcs and trolls of stone? And still you ... You are lucky in a way. Not everyone can appreciate the gifts of Melkor, but you were granted a very special grace, and perhaps by the time your race comes to its end, you will be still in the world to witness it, and even to survive it. All you have to do is staying by my side and keeping away from Melkor, because if he catches you, be sure that he will hurt you greatly. But if you stay under my shadow you will be safe. And since you don't like your new face... you can get this, and cover at least the half of it. -saying that, the lieutenant chose a helmet among the old armors and threw it at the feet of the human.
It was a bone helmet, made with the top of the skull of some horrendous animal. The man looked stunned at it for a few seconds, but then he turned to Sauron with gratitude.
-My lord, thou art so good with me. Thanks for protecting me.
-Don't be mistaken! I'm almost as cruel as the Lord Melkor. -snapped the lieutenant with stern visage.- But I'm also more predictable. If you follow my orders and don't disappoint me, you will have nothing to be afraid of.
-I will follow thy orders and I will be faithful to thee, my lord Sauron.
-Call me "master". -Sauron had always wanted to say that.
-Yes, my master. -said the man, looking at him with adoration.
And he put the helmet on his head, which left him with only his mouth exposed, and his two red eyes peering through the sockets of the skull.
From then onwards, the man didn't separate from Sauron even for a second. He followed him come rain or shine, watching every one of his movements and words, and learning all he could about how to deal with the Orcs, how to give orders and enforce punishments, and how to organize work.
At first, he was content to be a silent witness of the acts of his master, but gradually the lieutenant started giving him autonomy and entrusting him with minor tasks.
Then Sauron was pleasantly surprised to find that this strange creature could not only be very loyal, but also had a great ability to adapt, and soon exchanged his original innocence for cunning, his fear for arrogance, and his purity for cruelty. As soon as he felt that Sauron trusted him and granted him just a little authority, the human was filled with pride. And he began to dress ostentatiously and wear the rings and jewels that his master gave him, to make it very clear for subordinates who was above them.
Sauron took delight in how easy to corrupt had proved to be those lesser children of Ilúvatar. Easy to corrupt and mean, too. For if the other races and animals used to show their strength facing beings as powerful or more than themselves, he found that these humans, on the other hand, concealed their natural weakness abusing those that were even weaker. And it was very funny and pathetic at the same time, that those beings who had not been given any special quality, showed however such delusions of grandeur, such ambitions and whims, that far exceeded the limits that had been imposed on them by Eru.
In a way, they reminded him a little of Melkor himself, except, of course, that for Melkor those ambitions were reasonable, while for men turned out ridiculous. Sometimes Sauron had the impression that when Eru had conceived the Elves, he had done it with similar thoughts to those that fathered Manwë, but when conceiving men, he had done it with that dark area of his mind from which Melkor arose.
And somehow, Melkor suspected this as well.
He, the most powerful being of Arda, saw a reflection of himself in them, the most insignificant beings on earth, and this angered him.
Therefore, the Vala didn't approve of his lieutenant turning the man into his personal servant, and waited for the right occasion to snatch him, while deep in his heart he plotted ways to horribly torment the creature.
The Orcs and Balrogs didn't look kindly at the protegé of Sauron either, and Gothmog spied on them with suspicion, and rumours started going around Angband.
But so far, the human remained safe, and within his small area of power he believed himself a god. Everyone started calling him "the Shadow of Sauron", to the point that he gradually forgot his original name, the one he wasn't allowed to use anymore. And he never again took off the bone helmet.
The lieutenant took good advantage of the services of his new subordinate, and delegated to him the harder tasks, or those that required contact with Gothmog, be it physical, or communicative, or simply visual contact.
Freed from these hindrances, he could indulge in more interesting matters, and in the days that followed he often traveled incognito through Middle Earth, trying to get information about the new realms of the Noldor. The obsessive idea of breaking the siege of Angband haunted him day and night, but he didn't find any solution for the moment.
However, rumours reached his ears about a curse that Mandos had cast on the Noldor before going into exile, and about the enmity between Thingol and the High Elves, caused by some scuffle in the Undying Lands that he failed to understand well, as everybody spoke ambiguously about it.
These were good news, of course, and Sauron devoted his spare free time to plot how he could exploit the disunity among the different Elven houses. Doriath was still a thorn in his side, and nothing would satisfy him more than seeing the kingdom fall at the hands of its own race.
Also in the distant lands of the East, in Hildórien, was seen at night a large black wolf with a gleaming glass eye, that seemed to spy on the frightened men.
Sauron was surprised to find that, against all odds, those beings, far from diminishing in number, had increased dramatically. In a manner similar to rats and insects, which despite being so insignificant, spreaded everywhere. Unfortunately, some of those men still had friendly relationships with the Elves who, after all, had taught them the language and many of the techniques that their civilization used.
This made Sauron think about the power of language to unite people and how, paradoxically, the language of the Grey Elves had come to be used throughout Beleriand, even among the Orcs.
Then he had an idea, and transforming into a bat, flew hastily to Angband.
Melkor was, as usual, looking out the window of a tower while spying on the enemy army. The siege caused him great anxiety, and sometimes he paced to and fro like a caged and rabid animal.
The Vala needed to extend his power over the earth, either by going through it himself as he did before his stay in Valinor, or at least deploying his creatures across it, who nonetheless had part of that power inside. But now he had to concentrate all that energy inside his body, and there were days when Sauron felt him so overloaded, that he feared that Melkor would explode in a terrible blast and burn everyone to ashes.
This was one of those days. So Melkor didn't want to hear the proposal of Sauron.
-Creating a new language for the servants of Angband and make everybody speak it in Middle Earth? I have no time for such trivialities! -he growled, still spying on the Noldor.
-But thou wilt agree, my Lord, that Sindarin should not be the lingua franca.
-Of course not! What right have those Elves to name all the lands I own? Doriath is a ridiculous realm, they can speak their jargon there if they want! However, creating a new language is a tedious thing that requires time and patience. And I have neither! As far as I'm concerned, we can force them to speak in the old language of the Valar. -Sauron snickered; the tongue of the Valar was so unpronounceable for creatures of flesh and blood, that their mouths would probably bleed just trying to speak it. Melkor interrupted his reflections grabbing his arm and dragging him to the window:- Look, look there! Don't you think that they have moved their positions, that they have approached a few meters from yesterday?
-I don't know, my Lord, it seems to me that they are in the same place, but it may well be...
-They're challenging me again! And may I put up with their impertinence without doing anything!? No!
Then Melkor gave the order to attack to the soldiers that operated the catapults of the upper bastions. Soon, a shower of huge blocks of stone fell on the Noldor, wreaking havoc and opening huge gaps in their ranks.
The damage was considerable, but the enemy soldiers soon regrouped and responded with their own barrage of stones against the walls of the fortress. For a few minutes a tremor was felt shaking the walls from top to bottom, and some of the furniture in the room fell to the ground.
The counterattack was brief, and once it was over, Gothmog entered the room slightly wounded in the arm, to report that the Noldor had opened a hole in the fortifications, although it wasn't anything too important.
Sauron felt at that moment a strange pulsation that seemed to come from Melkor, like a hot wave of anger that swept through the room. With blazing eyes, the Vala ordered Gothmog to send a strike force against the Noldor. The Orcs were regrouped at once, and went through the gates of Angband in tight formations, which crashed into the barrier of the Elves with desperate violence. Melkor and his lieutenant observed the carnage down there from the little window.
The Orcs fought fiercely, but were surrounded by the enemy army, unable to cope with it, and very few managed to return to the safety of the fortress.
Those who did so, did it leaving behind a trail of black blood or some other member lost along the way.
From the ranks of the High Elves raised then a cry of insolent joy, and Sauron felt another throb of heat across the room, and even through himself. Melkor looked out the window and shouted at the top of his lungs:
-Now Elves, ye have exhausted my patience! -and as he said this, the sky darkened over the plain of Ard-galen, and the summits of Thangorodrim trembled with accumulated vapours until exploding in a huge toxic cloud.
A new pulsation shook the walls, and then other more intense, and yet another.
Sauron step back, a bit frightened. With the fourth pulsation, which seemed to come straight from the heart of the Vala, a kind of earthquake shook the earth, and the ground broke down on the plain, exposing the underground magma.
From the cracks emerged poisonous smoke, spits of fire and foul-smelling sulphur, that swallowed a large number of soldiers of whom it was never heard again. Panic spread among the Noldor and they were forced to give ground, or else die in the flames. The siege remained there, of course, but now at least it was further away.
Melkor was left leaning against the window frame with his eyes closed, as in a faint, while he recovered the strenght employed. Even from where he stood, Sauron could hear the reflux of his blood boiling inside his veins, and the fast breathing in his chest.
He took a cautious step towards the Vala and gently touched his shoulder; his body gave off an unbearable heat.
-My Lord, art thou allright?
Melkor opened his eyes, at first a little disoriented, but his expression was much more calm, almost of serene pleasure.
-Yes, I'm fine, much better now. I needed this. -the Vala leaned on his lieutenant, trying to hide the weakness that he still felt in his legs. -Tomorrow I'll send twice the Orcs than today and will open a gap in the siege.
-If thou allowest me, my liege, I don't think the problem lies in the number of Orcs, but in our positions. The Noldor are spread out, while our troops are forced to leave Angband in narrow columns. They can easily envelop us from the flanks, where our soldiers are vulnerable. If thou sendst twice the Orcs, thou wilt only lose twice the forces; frontal attacks are suicidal.
Melkor narrowed his eyes in a gesture half suspicious and half sleepy.
-What you are saying makes no sense, Sauron. Twice the Orcs is still twice. If that is not enough, I'll send the triple. But be it, since you take advantage of my momentary state of appeasement to talk nonsense, I'll let you say it to the end. What do you suggest?
-I had thought that we could build another base of operations at a distance. A secret base of operations, from which to attack the Noldor in the rear when they least expect it. We'll push them from behind, and at the same time we'll put pressure on them from Angband ... and then they will be crushed between the two fronts, like an ant between the foot and the ground. –and Sauron slammed with his fist into the open palm of his other hand, to make the explanation even more eloquent.
Melkor raised his eyebrows, thoughtfully.
-Yes ... It may be because of the power discharge I just had, which still clouds my mind, but it seems a good idea. Allright, Sauron, search for that new base of operations! You are in charge.
Sauron bowed his head, and felt immensely proud. That was one of the few occasions in which Melkor openly praised one of his ideas, and he had to enjoy the moment.
He only regretted that Gothmog hadn't seen it.
During the following weeks Sauron and his spies were deployed throughout Middle Earth in search of a suitable place to build a new fortress. And fortune would have it, that they didn't even need to build it: they found a newly built one in an unbeatable location.
Many new things had sprouted over the earth during the time the lieutenant stayed immured, and he discovered one of these on an island of the river Sirion. In the place where previously there had been nothing but a grassy mound, with the odd tree here and there, now stood a mighty tower of stone, whose battlements, silhouetted against the gray sky, gave it the resemblance of the chipped back-tooth of a giant.
Sauron looked at it from a distance for a long while, perched on a branch as a crow, and thought about the strategic advantages of the place. The more he thought about it, the more appropriate seemed its situation. That fortress should belong to Angband, to Melkor, to himself, no matter the cost, no matter how. Its structure was graceful and beautiful, a work of the Noldor no doubt, but at the same time it possessed an admirable strength and impenetrability.
Impenetrability, of course: That was a quality in itself, but an inconvenience from the point of view of someone like Sauron, who just wanted to penetrate in the tower with his troops.
If he only had exact details about the building, the layout of the floors and the available defenses, he could find a blind spot from which to start the assault. But the tower was well guarded by many Noldorin warriors, so even getting closer was impossible.
At least it wouldn't be possible as the lieutenant of Angband, or as black wolf, or as infectious bat. There was always the option of disembodying and inspecting the building as an invisible wraith. But Sauron had been too long without a body to cling to, and he felt repulsed by the thought of having to part with it again. How could he take an appearance noble and beautiful enough to be allowed through the gates of the tower, and at the same time harmless and insignificant enough so he wouldn't be seen as a threat and raised suspicions?
Then an idea began to take shape in the mind of Sauron, and among the pine leaves on which he was perched, there was a brief flash for an instant.
A few minutes later, a group of guards turned away from the fortress, alerted by the desperate cries for help and the sobs that came from the nearby grove.
There in a clearing, lying on the floor with the clothes torn and a bleeding wound in the leg, they found a beautiful maiden who was crying inconsolably. Her hair was black as the starless nights of the distant days of Utumno, and fell in undulating cascades down her shoulders and back. But her skin was as white and bright as the snows of Taniquetil when Varda spread over them the dust of far-off stars.
The guards approached her with words of reassurance and comfort, and when the maiden looked up, they stood frozen in the place, and their hearts were filled with love and compassion. Those two eyes reminded them of the amber stones that the Noldor once carved for Aulë, and both seemed to burn with their own flame, warm and kind, but also tempting and full of seduction.
Without hesitation, the soldiers collected the wounded lady and led her to the fortress to heal her leg and bring her to safety.
Sauron chuckled to himself. Beauty, of course, was a hollow and vain thing, but very useful when the hearts of men were no less vain and hollow, when their short-sightedness wouldn't let them see beyond the facade of things, and make them mistake for pure gold what was just a glitter.
In this guise, and faking a limp because of the pain, Sauron let his escort drive him through the bridge that led to the island. Along the way, he didn't lose the opportunity to inspect the bridge itself and the surrounding area. If he wanted to carry out the assault, that was obviously the easiest way to cross the river. The fact that it was facing south had the disadvantage that the troops would have to make a detour first, but on the other hand, an attack of Angband from that side would be more unexpected. Furthermore, the bridge was very solid and resistant, so the possibility that it was destroyed before the crossing was unlikely. At the end of the bridge stood a barbican with a couple of guards on it: the first obstacle.
Sauron took mental note of all the fortifications as they approached the main entrance. Behind the barbican opened a moat, maybe about five yards deep, filled with greenish water, under the surface of which one could guess the sharp points of stakes, so that in the event that the enemy didn't drown, at least he could be skewered. Perhaps there was a bit of Ulmo in those stagnant waters as well, or maybe not. Before the troops could cross the moat, someone would have to fly to the other side and cut the ropes of the drawbridge. Thuringwethil the vampire would serve.
After this came the outer wall, with four main bastions and four secondary bastions between each one of them, that gave the outline the appearance of an eight-pointed star. On each bastion a turret, and on each turret four sentries. The same structure repeated at the interior wall, but on a higher level and a smaller scale.
Finally, in the middle, stood the large octagonal tower. Sauron found with no surprise that also up there on the battlements there were sentries.
He was mentally calculating the number of soldiers deployed in the outside, when an exclamation took him out of his machinations:
-Oh, by all that is sacred! What do ye bring me here, guards? A lovely maiden, and wounded too!
Sauron was now in the main hall of the tower, and a richly dressed Noldo, no doubt the lord of the castle, descended the steps toward him with an alarmed and confused expression. At first glance, the lieutenant guessed that the Elf, whether of noble family or not, was rather dim-witted. Interestingly, his hair was not black as it used to be among the members of his clan, but blond.
"A half-breed certainly" -he said to himself.
The Elf approached him and took his hands, causing a slight movement of repulsion in Sauron.
-Beautiful girl, why dost thou wander alone in these dangerous places, and who has hurt thee that way? -he continued, staring at the burning amber eyes.
Sauron let out an affected sigh and covered his face, as if the mere memory of his imaginary misfortunes would make him cry again.
- Oh, my lord! The reason I wander alone is a sad story of impossible love and petty jealousies. I lived in Hithlum, in the realm of the mighty Fingolfin, and there I was loved in happier times by a handsome and courageous boy. I returned his love with all my heart, so when the envious rival of my beloved tried to claim my hand, he found in me nothing but coldness and disdain. Now my love lies dead, pierced by a treacherous sword, and I run through the woods with no company but that of wild beasts. A wolf from the Shadowy Mountains wounded me in the leg, but I managed to escape. In any case, that's not the wound that worries me, my lord, but the one that I have in my soul. Which, I guess, will bring me very soon to the halls of Mandos. -Sauron sighed again, this time with even more affectation, and made a gesture of fainting. The Elf was quick to hold him so he wouldn't fall.
-Do not worry, my fair lady. Now thou art safe in the fortress of Minas Tirith. I am Orodreth, the lord of this place, and I'll protect thee from all evil. What is thy name, dear?
-Thuringwethil –Sauron let out the first female name that came to his mind.
The lieutenant didn't spend much time around women, and also, since he had thought earlier about the vampire, he had her name on the tip of his tongue. A tongue that he bit at once, regretting what he had just said.
Orodreth frowned, puzzled.
-That's a very dark name for such a bright woman... -he commented.
But indeed, he wasn't a very sharp Noldo, and he simply shrugged.
He ordered the soldiers to take the lady to a quiet place to rest, and to call a healer. Sauron had to wait patiently for him to disinfect and bandage the false wound, and then pretended to rest from his exhausting journey on the couch of an alcove.
He felt downright uncomfortable within that unusual body, and his nature was starting to reject it. That delicate figure, those weak and soft members, represented everything that he despised.
Because Sauron had never appreciated the female sex. In those creatures he had found, as a rule, nothing but compassion, and tenderness, and sentimentality. All of them useless qualities. And he would never understand why some Ainur had chosen those weak bodies of their own accord.
Although when he looked back in time, he wasn't sure if he had always thought so. Perhaps it was Melkor who had put such ideas into his head, who had instigated in him that hatred towards femininity.
Probably all began at first with the dispute between the rebellious Vala and the queen of the Valar, and he still remembered the anger of Melkor a little while later, when he learned that all the Ainur had named Varda the most beautiful among them. Melkor had passed as lightning through the mountain on which he was working at that time with Aulë, causing the collapse of the entire summit. And he had proclaimed to the four winds that he was not only the most powerful but also the most beautiful of the Ainur, and not Varda.
At that time, Melkor just wanted to be the epitome of EVERYTHING. If some Ainu had said then that he was the bluest, Melkor probably would have intervened as well, saying that he was still bluer.
Of course, Melkor had been indeed very beautiful in those days ...
Sauron wondered if the Vala still seemed beautiful to him. Now that he was a Dark Lord, a shadow of what he was once, consumed, twisted and corrupted by his own power.
An imperceptible voice answered from the depths of his mind, and it said that yes, that he still seemed beautiful to him. More than ever, in fact.
Sauron shook his head to banish the voice. It wasn't the time to think about trivialities, but about the tower's fortifications.
Regarding this, the light that filtered through the alcove window was acquiring already the red tones of sunset, and the lieutenant wondered how much longer would he have to stay lying there and doing nothing.
As if he had guessed his impatience, Orodreth then poked his head out the door, to make sure that the guest was well, and asked if she wanted to eat something. What Sauron more fervently wanted was touring the tower once and for all, and call the roll to the number of troops and weapons that hid there. But if he refused to eat after such a supposedly long journey, it would be suspicious.
Thus, Sauron was forced to accompany Orodreth at the table and listen to his endless and dull chatter. It was amazing how that Elf could speak so much without saying anything. He only shut up for a moment whenever Sauron fixed his gaze on him. Then he stayed as dumbfounded and lost in the depths of those amber orbs, and blushed and had to look away. But the next moment he resumed his ramble:
- ... well, my brother Finrod was the one who built this fortress. But soon after finishing it, he immersed himself in new works and began to dig caves in the South. What dost thou think? A Noldo of royal blood living in a cave. It's absurd, I know. But my brother Finrod was always a little weird. He has met with those ugly and ungraceful dwarves, and even befriended them. Felagund, they call him... Honestly, if he wasn't my brother, I would think he has some dwarf blood, because he's also somewhat short. Thou wouldst not believe the amount of treasures that he brought from Valinor! And just for what, for leaving them in a cave and let saltpetre and rust eat them? Middle Earth is no place for golden treasures and refinements of royal court. Everything here is so rough, so tough ... Sometimes, and I mean it for real my beautiful lady, sometimes I regret having followed my uncle Fëanor up here just for those damned jewels. Capturing Morgoth would be nice, of course, and taking him to Valinor, and handing him over to Tulkas to receive a beating of cosmic proportions. But the jewels themselves... as far as I'm concerned, they can go to hell with Morgoth and all his court of stinking servants! My father was the most sensible, after all ...
Of all that Orodreth said, only one thing caught the eye of Sauron. And this was the news that Finrod was digging something in the South, certainly an underground kingdom in the likeness of that of Thingol. He tried to pry some information about the location of that secret kingdom, but other than learning that it was called Nargothrond, he couldn't get anything from Orodreth. Probably not even he had an exact idea of the site yet.
After dinner, Sauron asked his host to show him the tower on the inside, and was finally able to make the recount of soldiers and weapons. The Elf was very surprised that the graceful maiden was so interested in places like the armory or the turrets, but he didn't give it much importance, and the pleasure of accompanying such a beautiful guest erased any trace of suspicion.
Because indeed, Orodreth was more than delighted with this beauty. And at a given moment, in a very sneaky way, he put his arm around his companion's waist as they climbed the steps to the battlements. Sauron thought then about grabbing that bold arm and pull it out by the roots. But he chose not to do so, since that would be a very unladylike behaviour.
When the lieutenant's curiosity was satisfied, and the building's blueprint outlined in his mind, Sauron asked his host to lead him to a sleeping chamber, as the night began to fall outside. As soon as the tedious Elf let him alone, he could escape to Angband with the report for Melkor.
Orodreth then led him to a bedroom more luxurious and ornate than the other rooms of that austere fortress. It must be a room for guests or, Sauron hardly dared to think it, the very room of Orodreth. A small window beside the bed provided the perfect escape route.
-Well, my lord. Now if thou dost not mind, I'd like to rest. -he snapped, without much effort to hide his impatience.
On top of that, maintaining that false shape was increasingly harder for him, and his spirit began to stir, eager to leave it as soon as possible.
But the stupid Elf didn't take the hint, or perhaps he didn't want to, and stood there staring into his eyes, as if a spell had nullified his brains.
-Fair Thuringwethil, I must confess that, more than glory or riches, or even more than the defeat of Morgoth, what I've always wanted with all the ardor of my heart was creating a family. –said Orodreth then, taking the pale hands of Sauron- I have long walked the Undying Lands, and then Middle Earth, in search of a wife. But I had no luck, and I wouldn't like to end up like my brother Finrod: a frustrated bachelor, living in a cave and surrounded by dwarves. However, since I have met thee, this fear has eased inside me. Because my intuition tells me that I have met my future wife, with whom I will spend the rest of my life until, perhaps, fate sends me to Mandos. And this is an intuition too powerful to be wrong, it's an inspiration of the Valar no doubt, and I can do nothing to fight against it. Forgive me, dear lady, I know that right now thy heart is broken. But maybe I can help thee to close the wound ...
And then, to the horror of Sauron, the Elf leaned over him as he closed his eyes and pressed his lips against his. The lieutenant felt a ball of repugnance churning in his stomach, and he didn't know what to do with that embarrassing situation. He wished to stick his fangs into the neck of Orodreth and let him bleed to death right there, but unfortunately that was not an option.
He noticed then the mirror next to him, and there, in the reflection that showed the horrible image of the Noldo kissing him, he discovered a disturbing detail. His right eye was starting to lose its colour and take its usual glassy appearance. It was an unmistakeable sign that the power that kept the deception was diminishing, and that his form would soon revert to its original state.
If Orodreth suddenly opened his eyes and discovered that whom he was kissing was the lieutenant of Angband, his whole plan would collapse. He would probably get away unharmed, but they would give the alarm. And then they would double the vigilance at the tower, and perhaps they'd even build up new fortifications, making the assault even more complicated.
Realizing this, Sauron pushed the Elf with abruptness to break the kiss. And immediately he covered his face with his hands, pretending to cry, so he couldn't see the telling eye.
-Please, my lord, go away, I just want to be alone ... –he sobbed with a choked voice.
Orodreth stepped back, mumbled a faltering apology, and then left in a hurry.
Sauron sighed in relief when he was alone at last. He went to the window and looked down: the height was not excessive, and the idea that the lady had escaped through there could be more or less plausible. Thus, and fed up of that pitiful appearance, the lieutenant transformed into a bat and flew away through the gap.
Being a maiden, even if it had been just for a few hours, was the most frightening experience of his life.
When he returned to Angband, he was received with the usual chaos that reigned in the fortress from time until now. Badly injured Orcs were scattered in every corner and every column, losing the last drops of life through the streams of blood that poured from each of their members. Battered shields and chipped swords hindered the path. Pieces of broken stones, which seemed to have been part of some unaware troll, rolled back and forth until getting pulverized under the footsteps of the smaller Orcs, that tended to the wounded without much enthusiasm. On the ground, some wolves skewered by dozens of arrows died among inaudible groans.
And amid all this mess, Gothmog paced to and fro in a frenzy, shouting to everybody around, and ripping the air with the whip without hitting anyone, but only to vent his fury.
-Sauron, about time! -he cried, when he saw the lieutenant. Sauron approached him with a stunned expression because of the disaster around him.
-But what happened here?
-What happened!? The master Melkor tried another desperate attack to break the siege, that's what happened! -Gothmog was so inflamed, that the smoke that he gave off stung Sauron's eyes .
-Don't get excited, and don't yell at me, Gothmog.
-I'm not yelling! And how could I get not excited!? The master Melkor wants to send my Balrogs out there, now that we have almost run out of Orcs in good conditions. I'm not going to send my Balrogs to that trap so they fall pointlessly into the hands of the Noldor! Have you seen the army that piles in there? There are more and more each time!
-And what do you want me to do? That I look out the window and politely ask the Elves to retreat?
-No, that you talk to Melkor and make him see sense, it's not for nothing that you are his dear lieutenant! He won't listen to me.
Sauron smirked upon noticing the bitterness with which he pronounced the word "dear".
-All right. I'll talk to him, in view of your inability to solve problems by yourself.
The whip of the Balrog whistled inches from Sauron as a warning, and his cape almost caught fire because of it. The lieutenant stepped back, but didn't wipe the grin off his face.
-Run, run to whisper your sweet words in the ear of the master, Gorthaur! –groaned the demon, turning around. -Though on the other hand, I wish you would not convince him. Maybe that way he will send you to the front as well, and the point of an Elven sword will make your two eyes equal.
Sauron laughed to himself, and then went to the throne room, where he found Melkor. To his surprise, the Vala was quietly lying on the seat and fiddled with a gem-encrusted dagger as if the mess around had nothing to do with him. Upon listening to the echo of the approaching riding boots, he looked up and smiled calmly.
-Welcome back, Sauron, my right hand. -he muttered, and then returned his attention to the dagger.
-I don't know if "welcome" is the right word in these circumstances, my Lord.
-One should always be glad to come home, no matter in what conditions he finds it, don't you think, Sauron? Now tell me, did you fulfill your mission, did you find a place for the new base of operations?
The lieutenant stood up straight with proud, pleased to report his success at last.
-I did a lot more than that, my Lord: I found an already-built new base of operations. It is an Elven stronghold in Tol Sirion, in an unbeatable location. In charge of it is a prince of the Noldor, a certain Orodreth.
-Another son of Fëanor? That Elf has more offspring than the country rabbits! –whinged Melkor, twisting his mouth in disgust.
-No, apparently he's his nephew.
-Son of the accursed Fingolfin then, may he burn in the subterranean fires!
-No, no, my Lord, I don't think that he's the son of Fingolfin. He has fair hair, so I guess he's of mixed blood.
-That family baffles me. But tell me more. Would it be possible to conquer the fortress in a short span of time?
Sauron looked away. It would have been possible to conquer it immediately, if Melkor hadn't massacred the majority of the Orcs.
-Well, my Lord, I have an exact plan of the tower and its fortifications, both external and internal. It won't be difficult to take it by assault when we have enough troops.
Melkor raised an eyebrow, intrigued.
-How did you get information of the inside, Sauron?
To this question the lieutenant hesitated for a moment. He couldn't tell his master that he had to transform into a maiden, since he would earn his eternal ridicule and scorn, and even worse: Gothmog would end up finding about it. But he couldn't lie either.
-Thuringwethil. She did it. She seduced Orodreth and made him show her the tower and reveal its secrets.
-That old witch seduced him? –the Vala pierced him with a look of eloquent malice and Sauron felt ashamed- Yes ... Of course she did... Well, in that case you will have to turn her into one of your captains when we take over the tower, in gratitude for her services, don't you think, Sauron? -and the Maia nodded, a little embarrassed.
-There's more, my Lord. I have also learned that the brother of Orodreth, a certain Finrod that he kept talking about, is excavating an underground kingdom in the South, called Nargothrond.
-Another secret kingdom! Don't they ever get tired of invading my domains with their mole holes? -mumbled Melkor with a frown.- And where is that kingdom, so I can destroy it?
-Judging by the name, somewhere near the river Narog.
-You are a genius, Sauron! –growled the Vala with sarcasm.
And balancing the dagger on the tip of his fingers, he stared at it for a while, as the embedded gems caught and returned the glow of the Silmarils, in a strange set of lights.
The lieutenant remained silent and ignored for a few minutes. Then he finally dared to ask the question that intrigued him so much:
-My Lord Melkor, why didst thou send the Orcs against the siege again, after seeing what happened the other day?
-Because I was bored! -snapped the Vala without looking at him, attentive only to the light beams emitted by the dagger.
Sauron was puzzled. This was not the kind of answer he expected. Perhaps something of the like of: "Because I wanted to prove to those Elves who is the most powerful" or "Because I wanted to spread the terror among them once again"... But because of boredom? That sounded as decadent abandon.
-I don't understand, master. What sense does it make to lead an attack if one knows that it won't be victorious?
Then Melkor withdrew the eyes from the dagger for a moment, and the perverse and corrupted gleam that Sauron found in them froze his blood.
-Oh, my dear Sauron, I know that you don't understand! But I've discovered something new. While I watched from the towers of Angband the battle raging below, while I watched how the curved swords of the Orcs opened the throats of Elves, and how the Elven spears pierced the skulls of Orcs, I realized how small and insignificant seemed those figures from above. Smaller than ants. More insignificant than the dust of the road. And I understood that victory is not important, that the only thing that matters is the death and annihilation of those negligible figures. What does it matter if all our Orcs die when Elves die as well? Both races are nothing but pustules that disfigure the face of Arda, of MY Arda. The world was created for me, and me alone. I don't want to share it with anyone else. -the Vala made a gesture of indolent disdain with his gloved hand, and continued staring at the shining gems.
The left eye of Sauron gave off a flame of indignation upon hearing these words.
-Excuse me for saying this, my Lord, but that's just nihilism. Thou wilt not have anyone to serve thee, or to admire thee, or whom to govern, once thou hast destroyed everyone and everything. There is no glory in death. Only death.
Melkor smiled to himself, and a shadow of bitterness appeared in the lines of his face for a second.
-I have known Death, Sauron. I have spent hundreds of years in its halls. I have been touched by it.
-Yes? And what didst thou find there?
-Pain. And pleasure. Only that matters. The rest... is indifferent. -Melkor sighed, and stretched on the throne with voluptuousness. Sauron realized that his figure was clearly visible beneath the thin fabric of his robe, and then to his anger joined a twinge of discomfort.- The days seem very long here confined, Sauron. -continued the Vala- The hours prolong and never come to an end. Boredom becomes unbearable... You have not entertained me as you used to since a long time. Do you remember? When we went down to the dungeons and you tortured prisoners for me? -and as he said this, Melkor began to stroke the blade of the dagger suggestively.
The lieutenant perceived, with great disturbance on his part, how the body of his master emitted a sort of wave of heat and lust quite inappropriate for an Ainu, but pretended to ignore this detail.
-Whenever he wants, my Lord can join me and see how I punish the prisoners.
-No, I don't want to see you punishing the prisoners and guilty. I've already seen that... Where do you hide that human, the human I brought as a pet and that you stole from me so slyly? I want to see how you torture him, how you break that frail flesh. I still don't know the pain of men, and I want to see it, Sauron, I want to know how their moans sound.
-With all due respect, that human is my faithful servant, and so far he hasn't committed any fault that makes him deserving of my lashes. -replied the Maia coldly.
-So you defend him! Then it must be true what Gothmog told me, that you have turned that creature into the plaything of your lust, that you use it for your personal pleasure. Isn't it true, Sauron? You do things with him when ye are alone, right? That's why you reward him with so many jewels and attentions.
The lieutenant's white teeth peered in a forced smile.
-Gothmog certainly has weird fantasies, but I assure thee that, although the human hasn't committed a fault serious enough to be punished, he hasn't achieved either anything important enough to be rewarded with the body and passion of an Ainu. It's not because of favoritism why I oppose to torture him, but because punishment, if one wants it to be effective, must be applied only to those who deserve it. If we begin to arbitrarily mistreat the servants, they will no longer have a reason to choose obedience and loyalty before rebellion and treason.
-But you enjoy tormenting them, you have fun with it!
-Whether I enjoy it or not is irrelevant. Interrogation techniques have a very clear function, and should be used for what they were designed, not just to satisfy perverse desires.
The Vala squinted, angry.
-Be careful, Sauron. You are treading on thin ice.
-I didn't want to sound insolent, my liege, and thou knowest that I will fulfill thy orders as I always do. I was just expressing my disagreement.
-Oh, really? Well keep your disagreement in some dark corner of your mind, and just do as I command you! Tomorrow the Moon will be full, and that makes me nervous. So I'll want the human in the dungeons to release the tension, understood?
Sauron nodded impassively.
-Yes, my Lord.
And after that, he turned and left the room with long strides, barely concealing his anger and his desire to hit something or someone. He didn't understand what was wrong with Melkor. Some deep change had to have occurred in the Vala during those sixty years he had been locked. A change that he had only suspected at first, but that now began to show itself with all its terrible consequences. How could it be that the same Melkor, that not so long ago had scolded him for mistreating an Orc to no avail, now decided to exterminate them all just for boredom and defeatism? That was not the master whom he had devoted himself, leaving everything behind to serve him, back in the ancient and dark times where the Lamps fell, and their rivers of fire drew on the earth's surface patterns of a more beautiful geometry than he could have ever designed in the forges of Aulë. The Melkor of that time had a vision. One different from that of the other Valar, chaotic and brutal perhaps, but no less valid. Evil and violence were only means at the service of that vision, but never an end in themselves. They had been the inevitable consequence, the path to follow out of necessity, given the belligerent opposition of the other Ainur. But despite everything, Melkor had not loved EVIL, he hadn't considered himself "evil" at any time, regardless of what the world thought of him. Now, however, he seemed to have enthusiastically embraced the title of "perverse Vala", given to him by others. It seemed that he wanted to do evil for evil's sake. And there was something in all this, in that lustful depravity, in that utter lack of purpose, that Sauron found deeply repugnant.
When he went back to the main hall, where the wounded writhed in pain, Gothmog approached him again, to ask him about Melkor's decision regarding his Balrogs. But after the conversation he had just had, Sauron was too bad-tempered to want to answer, and simply pushed him aside abruptly and passed by. Gothmog was so perplexed that he couldn't react, and when he wanted to strike back, the black cape already fluttered far away and disappeared into the undergrounds of Angband. However, the captain didn't need to worry about his Balrogs, since the idea of sending them against the Noldor had been erased from the mind of Melkor, and had been replaced by a thirst for human blood.
The next night, Sauron turned up at Glaurung's lair to fulfill the wishes of his master. That was where he expected to find the man, whom he had entrusted the task of caring for and watching the dragon.
At first he didn't see him anywhere, and just ran into the immense and scaly mass of the reptile. Glaurung pretended to sleep, but upon hearing Sauron's arrival, he opened one eye with curiosity. A deep and hissing voice came then from his powerful jaws.
-Long time since the lieutenant dropped by here. One misses you. Are you no longer interested in your dragons?
-I've been very busy, Glaurung. The only thing I think about day and night is how to end the siege of Angband once and for all.
-I've thought about it as well. And I have come to the conclusion that only we, the great dragons of fire, will be able to break through between the Elves and throw them out of our gates. -said the dragon, expelling with an absolute calm a yellowish cloud that smelled like sulfur.
Sauron was disturbed by these words.
-Banish those ideas immediately, Glaurung, you are still too young! Your scale armour is still soft, and the spears of the Noldor are sharp and penetrate deep inside. You are a too valuable creature to get lost in such a stupid way.
Glaurung wagged his tail annoyed and stood straight before the lieutenant in all his imposing greatness, as if trying to convince him of how strong he really was.
-You cannot stop me! If the Lord Melkor allows me, I will go out there and sweep the ranks of those filthy Elves with my breath. Melkor is who created me, who put the flame within me. He is my father, not you!
-You forget one thing, Glaurung. Although Melkor put that flame in you, it is me whom you owe the wickedness of your eyes, and your contracted pupil. –replied Sauron, pointing at his own left eye.- I collaborated to raise you too, I fed you and made you stronger, so I'm also your father. And so you owe me obedience.
-Two fathers... Where has been seen anything like that? –grumbled the dragon under his breath.
-Stop complaining and tell me: where is my human servant?
-Your Shadow? That little thing that you assigned me as a guardian? There he is. –and Glaurung pointed with his sharp snout at a corner of the chamber, that was partially hidden behind some thick pillars.
Sauron looked around the place, and found the man resting on a couch, as two low-class Orcs attended him. One of them was filing his black nails, while the other fanned him, since those men seemed to be extremely sensitive to temperature, and suffered just because of the slightest heat or cold. As soon as he saw his master arriving, the human pushed the two Orcs with contempt, to drive them away from his presence while he talked with the lieutenant.
Everybody in Angband was a slave to somebody, from the last to the first. Those Orcs were it to the man, the man was it to Sauron, Sauron was it to Melkor, and Melkor was a slave to himself and the Silmarils. As long as it was like that, hierarchy would work fine.
-What can I do for thee now, master? –asked the creature, standing up in front of the Maia with diligence.
Whenever he saw his master, his face lit up and a strange glow appeared in his eyes, a glow that Sauron didn't know how to interpret.
The lieutenant made a simple gesture for him to come his way, and the man clung to his master at once, happy to be with him again .
Thus, side by side, they went down the tortuous stone stairs that led to the last level of Angband, where cries were always heard.
Before opening the door of the dungeon, Sauron ran his hand through his servant's neck and stroked him slightly.
-I want you to know, that what I'm going to do with you now, I only do it because my Lord Melkor has asked me so. –said the Maia, and the human felt a shiver along his spine, as an ominous forewarning of the torment that was coming.
Melkor waited inside, standing next to the hooks and chains that hanged from the ceiling, and his black eyes showed a demonic expression. The man stared in horror at the rusty iron tools scattered on the floor, and felt the smell of dried blood, and the throbbing evil of the Vala, that filled the room with unnatural heat. He dared not to go forward, but Sauron pushed him gently, though firmly, and brought him before Melkor. He narrowed his eyes, and ordered the lieutenant to undress his servant. The Maia nodded obediently, and with a sudden jerk stripped the wretch of his clothes, and left him naked before the stabbing eyes of the Vala.
The poor creature lowered his head and shrunk embarrassed, not sure whether to cover himself or not. Melkor laughed, and asked Sauron to take away the bone helmet as well, behind which his face was hidden. Seeing himself without the protection of the helmet all of a sudden, meant for the man a still greater humiliation than having to show his naked body, and he wanted to run away and hide in the darkest corner of the fortress.
-Should I take off his jewels and rings too, my Lord? -asked the lieutenant.
-No, no, leave them. I like the ironic touch that they give him. -sneered the Vala, and addressing the unhappy human he said: -Look at you! So pathetic, so ugly and miserable. I'm sure that you had never before exposed your white nakedness to the contemptuous eyes of the world, am I right? You had never before felt so vulnerable, isn't it? Tell me then, what do you think that we're going to do with you?
The man looked shyly at the serious face of his master Sauron, and then at the terrifying figure of Melkor, and a tear rolled down his cheek.
-I think I know what ye want to do with me, my lord Melkor. -he stammered among sobs, trying to wipe his eyes with the back of his hand.– I only beg you to have mercy on me and please don't be too rough. I've never done anything like this.
Then, upon hearing these pleading words uttered by that creature, pale and helpless, in a cell, at the mercy of his captors, an old memory and an old pain revived in the soul of Melkor. A pain that had never died completely, no matter how much the Vala tried to forget it, and that once again climbed through his vertebrae as the ruthless reminder of what happened in the past. Suddenly, it was Melkor who felt extremely vulnerable.
And this made him burn with anger.
-How dare you to even suggest such a blasphemy, you filthy worm!? –he exploded- That I, a Vala, of the divine race of the Ainur, would lower myself to your same level! That I would give you my body for you to enjoy it! Insolent! –the temperature of the dungeon had risen considerably, and pointing towards the wall, from which hung a pair of shackles, Melkor shouted:- Sauron, chain this wretch, and show him that the crack of the whip will be the only thing that his flesh will taste tonight!
The lieutenant dragged his servant reluctantly, and chained him facing the wall, so that his back was left well exposed for the lashing. He was about to take out his whip, when Melkor stopped his hand.
-No, not with that one! Use this. -and the Vala gave him a nine-tailed scourge. The lieutenant looked with dismay at the scourge, and at his master, and again at the scourge, and his stomach clenched.
-My Lord, nine tails!? He's just a fragile human. Is it really necessary so much cruelty?
Melkor gritted his teeth and hissed with malice:
-What is it? Gorthaur the Cruel is getting soft?
Sauron frowned and took the scourge from the Vala's hands with restrained fury.
The whip tore the air, and there was a first crack, and a shriek of intense pain. On the back of the victim, nine red lines broke now the fine and white skin.
After this one, there was another crack, followed by another, even more shrill cry, and then came another, and another, and another. With each new crack, Sauron felt a hot pulsation piercing the air at his back, coming from where Melkor was. And with each new pulsation and each new cry from the man, he heard the voice of the Vala saying: "Harder, harder."
Sauron followed the orders of that voice without thinking, and hatred began to boil inside of him. Hatred towards the obscene pulsations that vibrated while passing through him, and towards the pathetic human whose blood began to form puddles on the floor, and towards Melkor's voice that each time trembled more with pleasure and arousal, and towards Melkor for forcing him to do something so coward and unfair, and ultimately, hatred towards himself, for still loving Melkor nonetheless.
He didn't know how many lashes had been already, perhaps forty or fifty. The back of his servant had been reduced to a bloody mass, and the strange waves of evil were so intense, that they shook the little furniture around. Then, from Melkor's body came a particularly violent pulsation, which almost hurt his lieutenant, and when he said again "More, Sauron, harder, harder", his voice broke into some kind of lewd moan.
Disgusted, and filled with fury and disturbance, Sauron wielded the whip one last time, and its nine ends were dealt with unusual force on the body of the abused creature.
After this, the cries and sobs died down completely, and the dungeon was silent.
Melkor groaned in agony:
-What's going on, why don't you continue!? Why I don't hear his cries any longer!?
Sauron turned and looked at his master: the Vala was visibly upset, shook because of the heavy breathing, and had an expression of frustrated pleasure on his face. Again, the concentrated power of his insides emitted an unbearable heat.
-My Lord, the human has fainted from pain. He's unconscious.
Melkor bit his lip in annoyance, and placed his hand on his chest, where the heart bounced at a feverish pace.
-Damn it! Well... clean this up. -he said, his voice faltering among gasps, and left the dungeon in a hurry.
Sauron watched the pitiful image of his servant, half lying on the ground, with his limbs hanging limply from the shackles, and crimson streams running down his entire back.
For the first time in his life, the smell of blood caused him repugnance.
He then peered through the door of the dungeon and called two Orcs, that came at once, to attend and heal the wounded.
-Look at him well! –warned the Maia, grabbing them by the neck and putting their faces in front of the lacerated body.- If I learn that ye have mistreated him or have done even the slightest damage to him, your backs will end up the same. –and thus said, the lieutenant turned around and returned to the upper levels of the fortress, invaded by some kind of sickening nausea.
During the following days, Sauron had no desire to see Melkor and tried by all means that it was Gothmog who met his demands. He was really angry at the Vala, at his irrationality, at his absurd cruelty with the servants of Angband.
For the lieutenant, loyalty was something sacred that under no circumstances should be betrayed. And in that poor human he had found just that loyalty that he always missed in Orcs and trolls. Orcs were not loyal to their masters; they only obeyed them out of fear. And trolls were simply too stupid to disobey. That's why having to mistreat the man hurt him so much, because he had the impression that he had broken the inviolable bond between master and servant. The same bond that joined him and Melkor, and that he not even now dared to break.
Although Sauron, of course, had recently had some blasphemous thoughts. He had dared to imagine himself as the supreme master of Middle Earth in place of Melkor. A master much more just, and rational, and useful for Arda. Furthermore, he had fantasized with the insane idea of grabbing Melkor, pushing him against the wall, and making him taste the same whip that so many others had tasted already.
But of course, all these were just passing thoughts that couldn't be taken seriously. The idea of rebelling for real never crossed his mind, not even for an instant. However, he couldn't ensure that rebellion hadn't entered the heart of his human servant, and feared that he would attempt to flee the fortress and join the Elves after the suffered torment.
Thus, the day the man returned to his side, once recovered from his wounds, Sauron was left perplexed.
-Why are you here again, didn't you have enough last time? –he snapped upon his arrival, with coldness.- Don't be stupid and get away from me! I can no longer protect you.
The man showed his yellow, sharp teeth in a smile that, despite its ugliness, still retained some of the original innocence that darkness had corrupted.
-How could I go away from thee? Thou art my master, and I will follow thee forever. Or wouldst thou stop serving the Lord Melkor just because he hurt thee?
-No, of course not. But that just means I'm stupid too, not that you are not.
The man lowered his head and remained silent for a few seconds. Then he whispered shyly:
-Master, could I ask thee a question? -Sauron nodded condescendingly.- What thou feelst for the Lord Melkor, is the same thing I feel for thee?
-I don't know what you feel for me, so I cannot answer to that. -replied the Maia.- But if it's some ridiculous human emotion, I assure you I don't feel it, neither for the Lord Melkor nor for anyone.
The man looked up, and found in his master's face nothing but inexpressive and disdainful iciness.
-I understand ... -he murmured, rubbing his arms as if he was suddenly cold.
Sauron then beckoned to him, and passing his hands around him, began to palpate the bony structure of his servant, through the ribs, the shoulder blades and the back. He could feel very clearly, even beneath the fabric, the swollen scars left by the scourge in its path. And it gave him the impression that, for some strange reason, this contact comforted the human.
-I think you will have my mark forever. –concluded the lieutenant after the quick examination- That means you will be my property until the end of your days, whether I approve it or not, so I guess I have no choice but to keep you at my service. Allright, you can stay with me. But now leave, because I want to be alone. -and he pointed sternly to the door.
The man bowed in gratitude, and disappeared from his sight.
It had been a big surprise that the "Shadow of Sauron" had not rebelled against his master.
But it was even a bigger surprise the day that Sauron rebelled against his. The day in which everything finally exploded.
It was a cloudy evening in which the Sun seemed to have lost its shine before due time, and the lieutenant was standing on one of the steep cliffs of Thangorodrim, watching the invaded plain that lay before him.
A distant sound came from the lower levels of the fortress. At first it was just a slight and rhythmic tremor, as the muffled footsteps of a giant. But as the pounding kept rising, the vibrations became more and more intense, to the point that even the peaks of Thangorodrim quivered slightly. For a second, Sauron thought that there would be a further collapse of the mountain, but soon realized that, given the nature of the shaking, it couldn't be due to this. Then the echo of alarmed cries came to his ears from below, in front of the entrance to Angband, and he saw how a sudden flare passed through the gates of the fortress, right in the moment they jumped from their hinges.
Then a huge, muscular mass of scales emerged into the light of day, spewing out fire around it, and dragging behind the broken chains and the Orcs that tried to retain them in vain.
The lieutenant looked stunned at the scene, while Glaurung swept with his tail the last Orcs that hindered him and barreled against the ranks of the Noldor. The charge was so brutal, that the siege was broken at once, and the dragon opened a wide gap using his fiery breath and massive size.
The terror and chaos among the Elves was worth seeing, and many abandoned their positions and fled in disorder. The less fast and fortunate, however, were burned to ashes or crushed under the immense legs of the reptile.
That was the plan of Glaurung, which he had decided to set in motion without consulting anyone, and it was having a much better result than what Sauron could have imagined. However, it was still a reckless venture and a disobedience on the part of the dragon. And that could mean nothing but trouble.
Without wasting a minute of time, the lieutenant flew to the lower levels, though he didn't have a very clear idea of how to stop Glaurung before it was too late.
On the way to the main entrance he found his human servant, who was supposed to watch the dragon, but that now ran around confused. Sauron took him by the shoulders and shook him enraged.
-What does all this mean, were you not the guardian of Glaurung!? How could he escape if he was chained? Answer! -he roared, and the man trembled upon seeing the narrow pupil of the eye fixed on him.
-I... I ... Master, I ... -he stammered, and had to look away from the scorching eye.- I don't know what happened. Suddenly the dragon began to whisper strange words to me, like a poison that entered through the ears. And his eyes... his eyes... I couldn't stop staring at them and I fell in a strange dream. He asked me to break his chains and I obeyed, don't know why. His eyes forced me to do it!
Sauron released the man, frustrated. In part the fault was his, for entrusting the supervision of a creature as cunning and powerful as Glaurung to a pathetic human. He peered resignedly through the entrance of the fortress, wide open now, and saw in the distance the columns of yellowish smoke and the metallic shine of the scales, twinkling among the Elven spears.
There was nothing he could do to make the dragon give up his destructive frenzy, save hoping that nothing bad happened to him out there and that he returned safe and sound.
But Melkor hadn't taken it so easy, and his screams of rage echoed in each of the pillars, cursing everyone and everything because of Glaurung's disobedience. The Orcs that still swarmed around the gates ran to hide, knowing that when Melkor cursed that way, nothing good was coming.
Sauron had no desire to deal with the Vala at the time either, and suffering from a timely deafness against the shouts, went back to the top floor followed by his Shadow, and took position on a small window. From there he could watch in detail the development of the battle.
It was already dusk when the dragon decided to return to the fortress, and on his way back he caused no less destruction than on his way out. All Ard-galen trembled under the footsteps of the monster on the run, and the Elven camp had been left in the same ruinous state of a vegetable garden after being trampled by a stampeding herd.
Sauron sighed in relief upon seeing that his beloved dragon, though wounded here and there by the spears, was in good condition.
However, nothing and no one would be able to save him from the wrath of Melkor.
In the hour in which the Vala called everyone in the throne room, the racket that had reigned in Angband a moment ago, was replaced by the most sepulchral silence.
There, standing before him, with the bowed heads and the humiliated look of the guilty, were Glaurung and the human. Behind them, a large troop of curious Orcs and Balrogs. And to the right of Melkor, next to the throne, was the lieutenant of Angband with a grim visage.
-Never, never before, since the day in which Eä was conceived in a vision until today, I had encountered such a disobedience on the part of one of my own creatures! –the voice of the Vala reverberated through the hollow halls, and even in the most hidden corners it struck terror into all who heard it.- You, Glaurung, traitor and rebel, stupid and vain, whom I gave my own fire!, is this how you appreciate the life that I put in you? Who do you think you are, to act behind the back of your creator, to stir up and destroy my fortress, to make a fool of yourself, of yourself and everyone else, in front of the enemy?
The dragon laid his head on the floor and closed his eyes, expelling a pale cloud of sulfur with an afflicted groan. His regret was evident, but a punishment was still needed. Everyone knew it, Sauron knew it.
What nobody expected, was hearing Melkor pronouncing the following sentence:
-Fine then, Glaurung, since you despise the being who brought you into existence, since you have decided to live according to your own desires and not following the will of your master, I release you from the chains that bind you to me, and consequently, from the chains that bind you to the world! Return thus to the dust and shapeless darkness from where you came once! Return to be snake, and ash, and iron hook! The flame that I gave you I'll take from you, and you will be Glaurung the Father of Dragons no more, you will be nothing, nothing at all! Dragons I have many at my disposal. I can do without the ungrateful ones.
Given this, all of those present held their breath in shock. Melkor had just condemned his beloved dragon to death, the one who was possibly the most perfect and successful of all his offspring. The surprise was tremendous, and no less for Glaurung, who until now had been convinced that he would only receive a reprimand and a punishment for his venture. A venture, moreover, that in the eyes of those present was just a harmless little prank.
Sauron tried to protest against the disproportionate and cruel sentence, but Melkor silenced him with a curt gesture of the hand. Then he turned his gaze to the man, and the creature shrunk on the floor terrified.
-As for you, miserable eyesore, good for nothing, that were not even able to accomplish your task and watch the dragon, for you I have reserved a lesser penalty than death, but that most likely will seem worse to you. I will deliver you to my hordes of Orcs, as I warned you once, and I will give them permission to do whatever they want with you, save ending your torment through death. -and saying this, he signaled to the troops of Orcs in the room, so that they caught the human and brought him away.- Take him, and make him into the object of your anger, of your thirst for blood, or of your lust, as ye will!
The Orcs licked his lips upon hearing the order, and approached the unfortunate among chuckles. A couple of them had their claws already on the fragile arms of the man, when the end of a black whip crossed their faces all of a sudden, and extracted a few drops of dark blood. The Orcs stepped back confused, at first not understanding what had just happened.
All turned their eyes towards Sauron. The lieutenant had the whip in his hand in a threatening posture, and was ready to lash at whomever dared to approach his servant again.
No one believed what had occurred, and who least believed it was Melkor. His right- hand man, at the right of his throne, had dared to contravene a direct order, and in front of everybody! That was such an unprecedented novelty, that the Vala didn't even know how to react to it.
-Everyone except for Sauron, out of the throne room. -he said slowly and softly, still looking shocked at the lieutenant, who stared back in defiance.
Those gathered there didn't move from their place, hesitant, and then the Vala bursted:
This time, the Orcs, the Balrogs and the dragon reacted instantly and went out in droves, glad about not being mixed up in the terrible scene that was coming between the Vala and the Maia. Only the man stayed on the ground, stunned, for a few seconds.
-Go away, you fool! –growled Sauron between his teeth, and cracked the whip right under the very nose of his servant, as a warning.
The human finally took the hint and fled the room, running at full speed. Now only Melkor and Sauron remained there.
The lieutenant descended the dais on which the throne stood, and knelt before his master. He wanted to explain the reasons for his action, although he feared that the Vala wouldn't allow him. But seeing that Melkor stayed still and silent, he dared to speak:
-My Lord, what I've done, I've done it for thee, lest thou dost something that thou wilt later regret. Glaurung has behaved badly, of course, but it's unfair that he dies just because of his small mistake. The incursion into the camp of the Elves has been quite successful, also, and showed me that dragons could be the definitive weapon to get rid of the siege. Therefore I beg thee to reconsider thy decision when the fire of thy anger is quenched a bit and thou canst think a little more clearly. Remember the days when thou and I raised the dragon together, and if there's still some warmth in thy heart for those better days, please, spare Glaurung's life. Regarding my human servant, I couldn't allow such vile deed against him. That Orcs took him with their dirty paws, and mistreated him, and raped him one after the other... it's revolting. And I'm sure that thou also findest it revolting and unworthy of a Vala, dost thou not, my Lord?
He looked up, and saw that Melkor was trembling with anger. But there was something else, there was confusion, and pain, and even some fear in his expression.
-You ... You ... Sauron, you have disobeyed me. You have rebelled against me. How could you do this to me, precisely you of all others, and after I took you out of the hole and gave you a second chance? Now I know that I have no one on my side, that I'm surrounded by conspirators, by spies of the Valar who desire nothing but my ruin. I am alone. Well, I don't need anyone! I will rule the world alone, and since all are against me, I'll have to destroy them all. Also you... I will also destroy you.
Sauron dropped his head again with grief. Definitely, that was no longer Melkor, but Morgoth. A sad tyrant, alone on his throne, feared by all but afraid of everything. Now he finally understood the meaning of the name that Fëanor had gave him, he understood the symbolism of that name change in all its depth, in all its brilliant clairvoyance.
Melkor, the Mighty Arising, the god of Arda, had given way to Morgoth, the Black Enemy, the corrupted and depraved despot, without hope, without dreams, without possible redemption. And there was no turning back.
Until then Sauron had resisted against this disturbing thought, which had long struggled to get out of the hidden recesses of his mind, but now it had finally come to light and he had to accept it in all its hideous reality.
At that time, the broken voice of his master took him out of his grim meditations:
-Morgoth? -he heard him saying, and Sauron understood then that the Vala had entered his mind without him realizing it, and had read all his thoughts.- How ... How do you dare to use that name?
-My Lord, I ...
- Silence! -he shouted, and a tremendous shock wave went through the whole room, making all lamps and glass objects to burst into a thousand pieces.
Sauron stood up, startled, and stepped back. The Vala had got up from the throne as well, and now descended the steps, approaching him slowly, enveloped in a cloud of increasingly thick and menacing darkness. Suddenly, Melkor seemed much taller to him, and the light of the Silmarils radiating from the iron setting refracted in his left eye and burned him more than ever.
For the first time since Eä was conceived in a vision, the lieutenant felt fear, real fear, and took another step back, and another, and another, while Melkor came closer to him.
-You miserable lesser spirit! Who do you think you are to judge me? Me, who was present at the beginning of all things, who had the largest share in the creation of all that exists. I knew the fate of Arda even before you learned to say your own name! I have gazed through the unfathomable voids that are beyond time, beyond space, and although Eru hid the Flame Imperishable from me, I have felt it in my heart, burning me with all the love and all the hatred of the Earth! I feel it every day of my life! But what do you know about any of this, what do you know about anything? -the shadow of Melkor stood over Sauron as a tower of darkness, and the Maia felt the hard wall against his back.
He was cornered. A hand wrapped in silk, soft as a caress but powerful as tongs, closed around his neck and turned him violently to make him face the wall.
-Tell me, Sauron, what do I have to do to make you respect me and learn where is your place once and for all, uh? -whispered the Vala in his ear, and pressed his body against the back of the lieutenant, leaving him no escape.- Do I have to rip your carnal envelope again, do I have to demote you and put Gothmog in your place, do I have to lock you inside a pit of ice and fire for all eternity? Or maybe ... Yes, maybe I should humiliate you in the lowest and filthiest way. Tarnish your body. Tear your flesh. –a lustful pulsation ran through Melkor´s body from top to bottom, and Sauron felt his warm breath against his nape while he inhaled the scent of his neck, as he had done in that distant day in the dungeons.- I have infinite ways to break your spirit, Sauron. It's been long since I stopped being a pure Ainu, do you know?, and I have desires, desires unbecoming of a Vala, desires of the flesh that burn me like fire. I feel them between my legs, Sauron, and inside, in hidden places you would be embarrassed to know. And do you think that I haven't thought before about satisfying them with you? Do you think that I haven't desired to mate with you, as beasts in heat do? Yes, I have desired it. Because I have known the taste of the flesh, and not just the taste but the hunger as well. The hunger that torments me day and night. That runs through my body as an always unsatisfied sting, a yearning to be touched, and possessed, and possess. -and as he said this, Melkor descended slowly with the other hand along the body of his lieutenant, put it between his legs, and began to stroke him in an obscene way.
Sauron was a bit disturbed by the feeling of his master's long fingers touching his private parts through the trousers, but stayed calm and didn't show any reaction.
-Can you feel it, Sauron, can you feel it like me? Tell me, do you like to be touched here? Would you like that I possessed you here, where perhaps the others could see us? –continued the Vala, sighing with lewd pleasure and still caressing his crotch, increasingly aroused.- Yes, that would be humiliating for you, right? That I used you to quench my basest instincts. The proud lieutenant of Angband turned into a toy for the pleasure of his master. If I did that, you would never challenge me again, you would finally fear me and your pride would be sunk forever. I wonder if you would enjoy it... yes, probably you would, because you are an animal. Tell me then, Sauron, if I penetrated you right now, would you beg me to stop, or to continue till the end?
And Melkor pulled aside the black cape, pressed his groin against him and moved his hips slightly, as if letting him know that he was ready to carry out his threat.
-I would beg neither for one thing nor for the other. –replied Sauron impassively. Melkor started, surprised by this reaction, and loosened his grip.- Wouldst thou still hold me in esteem if I begged thee? And anyway, it hurts me that my Lord thinks that I have such a low concept of him, that the physical union with his body would torment me. My Lord Melkor, if this is indeed what thou desirest, go ahead, do it. Honestly, I don't understand why thou wouldst prefer to have me in thy bed instead of on the battlefield, where I would be more useful no doubt. But nonetheless, whether in a place or in the other, I will always serve thee with loyalty and the best I can.
Then Melkor moved away from his lieutenant and stepped back, leaving him free. It made no sense to threaten someone who accepted his fate with such indifference, so stoically. And in any case, he wasn't even sure of being able to rape him. The very concept, the very word "rape", caused him an unbearable discomfort.
Sauron turned away upon seeing himself freed from the pressure that pushed him against the wall, and looked face to face at his master. In those mismatched eyes that Melkor had hated so much, there wasn't a trace of disdain or arrogance anymore, but only complete and utter frankness, as if they were two open doors to the sincere thoughts of the Maia.
Melkor knew that his lieutenant was offering him much more than his naked body: his naked heart.
And he accepted the offer.
-Speak. –said the Vala, and stood there in silence, while Sauron confessed everything.
-My Lord Melkor, if I must do a revision of my life now, I can summarize it briefly: I have always loved thee. Since I heard thee singing the first music, that gave being to the universe, way back in the mists of time, till the day in which the second music sounds, that will put an end to everything, far away in the twilight of our days. In saying this, I would have said it all. It is true that I didn't follow thee at first and joined Aulë, because I didn't quite understand thee, and like the other Ainur saw nothing but chaos and destruction in thy actions. But little by little I came to understand, and the veil that covered my eyes fell. Many think that I'm one-eyed, but I actually see things that others do not see. Thus, behind the chaotic appearance of the lava eruptions that thou causedst in thy path, I perceived the perfect synchrony in the dance of the fire particles. Behind the cruel facade of thy sheer mountains, I discovered the solid geometry that keeps the world standing. And in the terrible storms of frost and snow that ravaged thy domains in the North, I found a symmetry so delicate and beautiful in every snowflake, that would have made the stars of Varda cry if they had seen it. Only in thy works I have found this beauty with which I fell in love, a beauty that shows itself brutal and ruthless, passionate and perplexing, but that contains in its smallest atoms the ordered harmony of numbers. And also in thee I found that same intangible mystery of thy works, also in thee I found a beauty that no one else seems to see. Sometimes I think not even thou canst see it. And to those who say that thou art sterile, that thou art unable to conceive, to create new life, I say to them that they are blind and haven't understood anything. They don't know that thou dost not need to create anything new, because thou already bearst in thy own being all that thou needst. Others may need to make things outside themselves, silly toys to fill their emptiness and poverty of spirit. But thou instead only hast to spread thy essence into the world, and let the pieces of thy soul flourish in Arda and result in beings that are partly new, and partly fragments of Melkor still. No one has ever loved Arda in a way so sincere, so devoted. To the point, that sometimes I fear that thou may be too generous with the earth, and filter so much into it that thou wilt end up disappearing definitely. All these are the reasons why I love thee, my Lord Melkor, and why I'm proud to be thy lieutenant. And yes, it is true that I'm often insolent and bold with thee. But only because I believe that false flattery and adulation are for the weak, and that thou deservest something better. That's why, whenever I consider it appropriate, I criticize thee if any of thy decisions seems wrong to me. That's why I have called thee Morgoth in my thoughts, because it hurts me that thou behavest exactly as our enemies imagine thee, as a parody of thyself, instead of as the god thou art. But despite all the criticism, despite all the protests and insolent replies, be it as Melkor or as Morgoth, do not doubt, not for a single moment, that I have always loved thee and will always be faithful to thee. And if thou really wantest to punish me, know that there is no torture, neither physical nor spiritual, that can break me completely, as long as I stay by thy side. So if what thou pretendest is my utter annihilation, then release me, send me back to Valinor with Aulë and drive me away from thee forever. Then will come at last my end, and I will wander as a shadow with no master and no consolation, and there shall be no Sauron any longer, nor shall remain anything from me.
Having said that, Sauron fell silent. Melkor was still quiet, and there was nothing in his expression that revealed even the slightest emotion. Perhaps the words of the Maia had moved him, or perhaps they had enraged him further.
He just made a gesture with his hand and told him calmly:
Sauron bowed his head, unsure of the fate that awaited him, and followed the Vala through numerous empty halls. Angband seemed to be deserted, as all living beings had hidden terrified before the fight between the Ainur. The lieutenant had the impression of being in another place, a place dreamt and constructed with an impossible geometry, where only existed the sound of the footsteps of Melkor and of him. He went down endless flights of winding stairs, or perhaps he went up, he wasn't very sure. And finally Melkor stopped before a large dark wooden door, opened it and told him to enter.
The lieutenant had expected to find a torture chamber full of the most atrocious instruments. But instead, he found himself in that same room in which he had once discovered his master in complete rest, and had watched him fascinated. His rushed thoughts had him so distracted, that he hadn't even realized that it was there where they were heading.
Melkor approached the big black bed, and ordered Sauron to close the door. He obeyed, but didn't dare to move from the entrance.
Once alone in the bedroom, and safe from prying ears behind the protection of the four walls, the Vala decided to speak at last:
-You are right, Sauron. I am not Melkor anymore, but Morgoth. -there was so much sadness in his voice and in his eyes, that Sauron regretted at once having thought such horrible things about him, and tried to apologize. But Melkor stopped him- No, you don't need to explain anything. I know the truth, and you know the truth. You have always been honest with me, also in what you said before. I have read your heart and saw that all the love you were talking about was real, a love I never thought I was able to inspire in anyone. Thus it's time for me to be honest with you as well. There's something I have concealed for a long time, and now I want to show it to you.
And saying this, Melkor grabbed the rim of the velvet glove and pulled it up, revealing the pale skin of his right hand. Sauron opened his eyes expectantly, and felt how his heart quickened. The palm of the hand, that should have been perfectly white and unharmed, appeared now sullied by a nasty burn of unhealthy appearance.
A twinge of pain shot through the lieutenant's chest.
-My Lord, what happened? How is it possible that they have done this to thee? –and he took a step toward him, in an attempt to offer comfort.
-The Silmarils, their fire burned me when I first touched them.
-But does it hurt thee? Why dost thou keep the burn, why dost thou not adopt a clean form if thou art so embarrassed by the wound, rather than hide it with a glove?
Melkor closed his eyes, and Sauron sensed that his words had hurt him deeply.
-Because I cannot. -confessed the Vala afflicted.- I don't know why, I've lost the ability to change shape and disembody. I feel that my power is dispersing, that I'm losing it all. Can you imagine how humiliating it is for me to see how all the other lesser Ainur change shape at will, and know that I'm unable? Do you understand the shame I feel for being locked inside a fragile body of flesh and blood, a body that anyone can hurt, or burn or tear? Can you now, if not approve, at least understand all the acts I've done out of fear, envy and anger? I, who was once the most powerful of the gods of Arda, reduced to this. And not just in the hand I have been burned. I have other burns as well, invisible and secret, but much more painful.
Sauron had his heart sink upon seeing his master so downcast, and covering the space that separated them, stood in front of the Vala and gently stroked his injured hand.
-My Lord, I wish I could do something to put an end to thy suffering, but I don't know how.
Melkor smiled sadly.
-Maybe you can, if not cure me, at least relieve me. Come here Sauron, cold heart, and where others attacked me with fire, leave me your mark of ice.
Then Melkor sat on the bed, ordered Sauron to kneel down before him, and extended his right hand with the blackish palm up.
-Kiss me here. -he ordered, pointing at the burn of the Silmarils.
Sauron placed his lips on the scorched skin, and Melkor hissed with some pain, but didn't withdraw the hand.
The lieutenant separated the mouth from the wound and raised his eyes, waiting for a new order.
-And here. –said the Vala pointing to his wrist, which the prison shackles had oppressed for three centuries.
Sauron bent and kissed also that transparent skin and the three thick veins that it showed underneath.
-And here. -Melkor pulled up the sleeve of his robe and pointed to the inside of his elbow, which the Maia kissed as he had done with the other parts.
-And here also. -this time, Melkor dropped his clothing from one side to discover the white shoulder, which had suffered so much pain in prison, stretched against the wall.
Sauron kissed the joint while he noticed an unusual passion awakening within him, and bolder than before, he touched those bones with the same delicacy of the last time.
-Here. –sighed Melkor, and pointed at his neck, around which he had wore the cruel steel of Angainor.
Sauron kissed it, not just once as before, but on several places and several times: on the side, on the slight protrusions of the trachea, on the round Adam's apple, which moved up and down upon feeling the touch of his lips, and following the line of the collarbone, and on the gap left between those two bones. On this occasion, they were wet kisses, and accompanied by caresses on the neck and through his hair. Melkor closed his eyes and let out another, even deeper sigh. The lieutenant noticed he was unbuttoning his robe, and out of the corner of the eye he saw how the fabric fell to his lap and left his chest exposed. Melkor drove the Maia away from his neck, descended with his hand along his own body, and pointed with his index finger at the left nipple, just the one that Mandos had stroked the first time he laid his abrasive hands on him. Sauron watched the little pink button, a little hardened by cold and arousal, and stroked it with his fingertips. Then he lowered his head and kissed it.
-Lick it, Sauron. –asked Melkor, with a lascivious gleam in his eyes.
The lieutenant felt himself blushing upon hearing this order. He was almost sure that only the offspring of animals sucked at their mothers' nipples to suckle the milk. Therefore, what his master had asked him to do, seemed to him something perverse and unnatural, something that would anger Eru. But precisely this thought, that the act would be against the laws of Eru, made him desire it even more, and pounced on the nipple to lick it and suck it with a passion, that he didn't believe himself capable of until now.
Melkor moaned with pleasure, and slowly leaned over the bed until he was totally lying. Sauron put aside his cape and sword, that now were just a nuisance, and climbed over him to continue devouring the soft nipple, while the Vala gently stroked its companion on the right.
So engrossed had become the lieutenant with that part of his master's body, that he barely noticed that Melkor, led by the passion of the moment, had finished pulling his robe down to the ankles, and was left completely naked under him.
Sauron felt nervous: there was a Maia, supposedly a lower spirit, dressed from head to toe and with riding boots over the greatest of the Valar, naked and at his mercy. The reversal of roles and authority posed by the situation seemed delightful to him, but it also contained a great danger. Thus Sauron didn't dare to look down and discover with the eyes the intimate parts of his Lord.
It was Melkor who obligued him to descend, and told him where to kiss running his finger down the line through his stomach and abdomen, up to his pubis. Sauron followed that path with his heart about to explode, and where the fingers of Mandos had left a trail of fire and pain, he left the wet and icy marks of his lips.
The Vala's stomach contracted as it felt the cold touch of the tongue across its velvety surface. And then, when the mouth of the lieutenant sank into the fine hair that ran from below his navel to the region between his legs, all his muscles tensed and writhed in pleasure.
Sauron sensed the presence of his master's sex pressing against him, but he hadn't gathered yet enough courage to look at it. Then Melkor grinned, took the hand of the lieutenant and placed it on his member.
-Here, Sauron, here too. -he whispered.
The Maia felt the throbbing organ between his fingers, and watching it at last, it seemed to him a being with its own life, like a rare flower opened under the rain, obscenely beautiful.
Sauron had never had too much time or interest to explore himself, and the vision that revealed itself now before his eyes, fascinated him and triggered a rush of adrenaline through his veins. Overcome by desire, he kissed the soft end of the shaft, and then ran his tongue through it slowly and in circles. Melkor lifted his hips slightly and his breath became agitated. After this he felt the lieutenant licking his member up and down, and then, without warning, he inserted it whole into his mouth. The Vala let out a moan quite unbecoming of a god and arched his back, overwhelmed by the sudden pleasure of being taken entirely inside that warm wet cavity.
Sauron had also started reacting to the movements of his master. For some mysterious reason, seeing him enjoying that made him enjoy it to the same extent, even though no one was touching him. A pleasant feeling tingled between his legs, and an aggressive impulse was awakening in him, the same impulse that overcame him each time he turned into a werewolf or beast. Blinded by instinct, he ended up brushing the sensitive skin of the Vala with his fangs, and his master jumped in alarm.
-Be careful, stupid! Those are not ways to treat your Lord. –complained Melkor, giving him a slight blow on the head.
The lieutenant felt embarrassed: it wasn't typical of him to lose control like that, he, that was always guided by reason, that was never carried away by base passion. However, Melkor soon relaxed again, and spreading his legs wide, he asked him to continue down.
Sauron made an effort to control himself, and went through the space between the member and the opening of the Vala more carefully. In contrast to his effort to remain calm, Melkor had renounced to all restraint, and the feeling of the tongue circling his entrance, and even venturing inside, gave him tremors in the legs and made him curse and let out obscenities under his breath.
The Maia looked up for a moment and stared at his master: a pale and frail figure abandoned on the black silk, the dark patch of hair between his legs, where his member lay throbbing and crowned by a slight clear dew, the clenched fingers clutching at the sheets, and the chest heaving among rattles, the eyes closed, the mouth slightly open, and the light of the Silmarils bathing the bedhead with a ghostly glow. He said to himself that this was the most beautiful creature that he had ever beheld.
-Even more than the daughter of Melian? –he murmured.
-What, my Lord?
-I mean if you consider me even more beautiful than the daughter of Melian. I've heard that she is the most beautiful being that ever existed.
Sauron realized that the Vala had read again his mind in a treacherous way.
-I haven't had the pleasure of meeting the daughter of Melian yet, my Lord. However, I promise thee that when I see her at last, I won't consider her better than the most abject of Orcs in comparison with thee. –replied the lieutenant slyly.- However, if my Lord has that whim, I will capture her for thee and hang her in a cage over thy bed, and will force her to sing as a locked nightingale while I make thee love before her eyes.
Melkor laughed evilly, and ran a hand through the black hair of his lieutenant, with something similar to affection.
-Yes, that would please me in the extreme... And locking Thingol as well, that robber and rogue king, so he knows of the fate run by his beloved daughter. Now come here, Sauron, my sadistic servant. I want to see your body. -and Melkor pulled from him toward the bedhead.
Kneeling the two on the bed, face to face, the Maia proceeded to undress himself for his Lord. Melkor ran his aroused eyes over the anatomy of his lieutenant: the hard body, firm and slender, of adamantine whiteness, of muscles sculpted with cutting edges, cold and domineering according to his character. It was evident that he lacked the delicacy typical of the Vala, that his skin hadn't the same softness and transparency, as befitted his inferior status. This reassured the ego of Melkor.
Then he stared at the lower part of the body discovered before him:
-It's very ... very big, isn't it? –said Melkor, pointing puzzled at the member of the Maia.
Sauron looked down and blushed. He had never seen his shaft so swollen and erect. Maybe sometimes, while he lashed a prisoner with the whip, or while riding a horse, he had felt it hardening a bit, but hadn't given importance to it.
Seeing it that way now, he had to admit that it was, indeed, fairly large, at least compared to that of the Vala.
-I'm afraid that it's a little rough, my Lord. Had I known we were going to get intimate in this way, I would have prepared a body more graceful and delicate for thee. I suppose that Gorthaur the Cruel is not the most appropriate thing. -he apologized.
A voracious flash danced in the eyes of the Vala as he continued staring at him, and he licked his lips as a predator before jumping on its prey.
-No, no, leave it ... I like Gorthaur the Cruel. -he smiled, moving dangerously towards Sauron.
And before the Maia had time to react, he pounced upon him and began to lick his member with insatiable hunger.
The lieutenant let out a moan of surprise and almost lost his balance. A new and unknown pleasure flowed through his nerves from the lower abdomen, hindered his breathing, and made him pump blood at an unnatural rate. He wondered why Eru would have granted such a strange sensitivity to that area, which seemed pleasant, but at the same time produced effects in the body so similar to those of terror and anxiety.
He tried to restrain himself but failed pathetically, and within minutes he had lost control of his muscles and was moving involuntarily against the mouth of his own master. Very disrespectful. Also, at one point he came so close to the crown of iron, that one of the Silmaril seared his skin.
Sauron writhed and groaned. Melkor looked up with a questioning expression, and finally abandoned the abused member. He probably had confused the cry of pain with one of pleasure.
-Well, with this will be enough. -he said, wiping his mouth.
And putting his arms around the back of his lieutenant, made him lie on him at full lenght.
The light of the Silmarils directly in front of his face, pierced the eyes of the Maia with a sharp stinging, and he was forced to close them at once and turn the head away. Scalding tears fell down his cheek, and he thought he would be lucky if he didn't end with both eyes as a smoked glass after this.
-Sorry, my Lord, but I can't look at thee so closely. Or that incandescent light will be the last thing my eyes see. –he lamented.
Melkor was silent for a moment, and then made a movement with his arm.
-Look at me now. –said the Vala.
Sauron opened his eyes, with some fear, and blinked in confusion at the new image that appeared before him. Melkor's face seemed much paler and much less divine now, but the gleam in his black eyes and his serene smile weren't blurred by the light beams of any gem. The iron crown lay hanging from the bedpost.
Words failed Sauron. His master had taken the crown off, the crown that he swore he would never take off, and he had done it for him, just for him. It was the greatest sign of appreciation that anyone could expect from Melkor.
-You better never tell anybody about this. –warned the Vala, stroking his neck.
-Dost thou mean that I don't tell anybody about this thing we're doing? -and the Maia pointed at their naked and pressed together bodies.
-No, you idiot, that you don't tell anybody about THIS! -snapped Melkor pointing at the discarded crown.- What does it matter to me if you boast about the carnal favours that your Lord grants you? It's your problem if you want to be the target of all envy and hatred. But no one should ever know that the Silmarils have been for a time on another place but my head. You have not seen any of this, none of this has ever happened! Understood?
-Of course, my Lord.
-Well. And now attend, because we have not finished yet. -and saying this, Melkor rose his legs and entwined them around the back of his lieutenant.- Enter. -he commanded.
Sauron felt very embarrassed upon realizing how vulnerable and exposed had been left his master in that position. How could he offer himself in a way so absolute, so shameless, so sincere?
-My Lord Melkor, please don't ask me to do this. I cannot. I'm just a Maia, I have no right to desecrate the virginity of a god. -he apologized, looking away disturbed.
Melkor frowned irritated.
-Who do you think you are to decide about my virginity, arrogant insect!? Enter!
The order sounded defiant in Sauron's ears, and he gritted his teeth in annoyance. The pupil of his left eye had suddenly contracted, and grabbing Melkor by the thighs with violence, he lifted them to open him completely.
-Very well, my Lord, thou hast wanted it so. Don't bear a grudge against me when I hurt thee. -and with this last warning, he penetrated him all the way inside with a thrust.
Melkor opened his eyes wide and gasped for air, while he writhed and clung to the sheets in vain, as if trying to flee the invading member that pierced him without mercy. A single moan of agony escaped his lips when he cought his breath.
That had hurt, he couldn't deny it, and Sauron was sure that now some terrible punishment would fall upon him, even if it was just for obeying Melkor. Anyway, it was worth seeing that look of surprise and helplessness in the face of his master for once, and knowing that it was him, Sauron, who had caused it. The sadistic part of his being would delight in that image for eternity.
However, there was no punishment, no outbreak of anger, not even a slight annoyance. Melkor gradually relaxed, and the expression of pain was replaced by one of serene pleasure, almost of peace. The Vala smiled and stroked his lieutenant on the cheek. Then Sauron forgot the mean thoughts that haunted his head a moment ago, and was overcome by a deep love, and wished to not be separated from his master anymore.
Now he could feel him in full, warm inside, trembling, and once more noticed the strange pulsation going through his body, but this time in a slight and softened way. He didn't know whether it was his power, or just the beating of his heart.
Sauron stayed immobile for a while, enjoying that sensation of fullness and appeasement, and waited for the body of Melkor to adapt.
-Move. –asked the Vala in a whisper, squinting, and put his arms around his back.
At first the Maia slid inside and outside very slow, cautiously, but found that they fit into each other more easily than he had expected. Saliva, however, also helped.
With a little more confidence, he dared to speed up the pace a little, and after a certain thrust that was harder than usual, Melkor started.
-What was that? -he asked confused.
-What, my Lord?
-That. Something you have touched in there. The last time I didn't notice ...
-What, my Lord?
-Nothing, nothing ... -Melkor left the subject aside, evasively.- Just keep touching that point. I like it. I don't know why Eru has placed it right there.
-For my Lord's enjoyment, of course.
Melkor laughed, and a new thrust brushed him again in that secret spot and stole a sigh from him. And then another, and another, and then a stifled moan and a contraction.
-Speak to me, Sauron. –muttered the Vala with his eyes closed.
-About what, my Lord?
-What do you mean, about what? About me, of course.
The Maia smiled and leaned over him a little more, to be near his ear.
-There's not much more to add to what I've already said. Only that I can't believe that my Lord has granted me the privilege to join him so closely. I've pondered over innumerable things and I've foreseen hundreds of possible scenarios in regard to peace and war. But I could never foresee this. And that I'm the only being in Arda that can enjoy thy favours, that's more than what my ego can handle.
-And what makes you think you are the only one? –provoked Melkor- What if I told you that just yesterday, Gothmog was doing this same thing to me in this same bed?
-Then, my Lord, I would grab Gothmog and force him to swallow his own flaming whip, followed by his own arm. And thereafter, I would ask my Lord why does he have such a bad taste.
Melkor stifled a laugh.
Then a disturbing doubt assailed the mind of the lieutenant, and he stopped for a moment.
-My Lord, art thou perchance serious and hast thou already done this before with someone else?
Melkor's eyes widened in surprise, and Sauron had the impression that a shadow of fleeting sadness crossed his face. But then the Vala shook his head vigorously and drew him even closer to his chest.
-No, no, never, never Sauron, never before, never ever! Just keep moving, don't stop now.
The Maia forgot the matter and continued with the act. His aggressiveness was increasing, and soon thereafter Melkor almost bounced on the mattress with each thrust, and each bounce was accompanied by a scream. It was obvious that the Vala began to have serious difficulties controlling his body and breathe.
Sauron had the mouth of his master very close, half open and panting, and there was nothing he desired more than kissing him or biting his lip, as he had seen his Lord do whenever he got frustrated.
But Melkor hadn't given him permission to do that, so he contented himself watching his expression. It was curious that the visage of pleasure resembled so much the visage of pain.
-Keep talking. What else... What else would you do for me? –gasped the Vala, almost inaudibly, and Sauron had to make an effort to answer, for he too was very suffocated.
-What else? I wish that, just as my Lord is part of all the earth, I too could be part of all the lava streams that run through the earth. Thus I could flow through all thy conduits, all thy secret passages and cavities at the same time, and open channels through thy body, and go outside in a climax of eruptions of fire, and ash, and molten rock, in the middle of a tremor of earth and magma.
Melkor squirmed and let out another plaintive moan. He was barely aware of anything now.
-And what else, what else would you do? -Sauron licked his neck, not caring whether it was appropriate or not, and whispered in his ear:
-I wish that we could both disembody, and ascend together to the exterior voids, to the Timeless Halls where it all began, and there before Eru we would merge into each other, and we would sing a music a thousand times more beautiful than the one that gave being to Eä, and Eru would cry upon seeing our union, and bitterly regret being "The One", "He that is Alone".
-Yes! –cried Melkor arching his back.- Do it, Sauron, do that, go deeper! Deeper!
Sauron didn't know at first what did he mean with "deeper". But then, as he heard the pleas of his master, there was light in his understanding.
Then he disembodied in part, just the necessary, and penetrated the flesh of the Vala, through his skin, his bones and his organs. In the middle of darkness he discovered the spirit of the Ainu, lonely and shivering, forever isolated from the world by the four walls of matter. Sauron stroked him gently and then entered him.
For a few seconds both spirits, separated at the beginning of time by the mind of Eru, were one and the same again, and in the midst of that mystical communion they understood things about each other, that after separating they would never remember again.
Melkor threw his head back and dug his nails into the back of Sauron, shaken by a current of indescribable pleasure.
-Enough! -he screamed, and the lieutenant embodied again completely and put an end to the blasphemous fusion.
Just in that moment, he felt a strong pulsation that seemed to come from deepest in the subsoil, and when the Vala let out the final moan, torn and full of anguished joy, it was as if the whole earth moaned too, as if every rock and mountain where Melkor had ever left a part of himself, broke at that moment of glory. And all the beings who shared in the essence of the Vala also shared in a small part of his pleasure. And all the beings who opposed him, felt their hearts shrinking in terror.
The lieutenant could not escape from that kind of shock wave, and he was caught and enjoyed himself with each contraction of the body of his master. However, his climax struck him as mediocre, poor and selfish compared to that of the Vala.
When the storm subsided, Melkor was left lying and motionless, as if he had died. And if it wasn't for his chest which still rose and fell amid a deep breath, and because he was an Ainu, Sauron would have truly believed that he was dead.
It was possible that he would never again see his Lord in such a state of serene and perfect bliss, and taking advantage of the fleeting moment, the lieutenant laid down and embraced him to feel every inch of skin and bone and each throbbing of blood against his own body. Still inserted within him, he could feel the last contractions that died alongside the strenght of the Vala.
After a while, that maybe was a second or perhaps an eternity, Melkor opened his eyes and finally reacted. The foreign member, still stuck into his cavity, seemed now annoying and a bit painful to him, and he shifted uncomfortably.
-Sauron, leave now. -he complained.
The Maia sighed with resignation.
-My Lord, of all the orders that thou hast given me, this is definitely the one I find most difficult to obey.
But he separated from the Vala. A strange sadness, half pleasant and half heartbreaking, had seized him, and all his aggressiveness had vanished as if by magic.
Melkor laid on his side and put his arm around the neck of the lieutenant, drowsy.
-Do you think the sounds of our passion have been heard in Angband, Sauron?
-I'm afraid they've been heard over the whole Beleriand.
-I hope so. Now they can speak of Lammoth, "the Great Echo", for another reason. -Sauron smiled, showing a fang, and stroked the back of the hand that rested on his neck.- I still have one last burn that I want you to kiss. –said Melkor then, and pointed at his lips.
Sauron didn't have to think twice, and consoled himself after the separation by joining his mouth to that of the Vala, in a play of entwined tongues that he wished to last forever. As he kissed thus his master, he perceived a part of the power of Melkor coming from inside of him and passing to his mouth, to descend then like a flame torrent to the Maia's core, where it remained thereafter.
Melkor parted his lips with a little sigh.
-My Lord, it wasn't necessary that thou didst that ...-but the finger of the Vala on his mouth silenced the lieutenant.
-Do not say anything. It is my privilege to grant my power whom I want, and to strip him of it when I want. Perhaps in this way, someday, you will stop being so cold inside and you will be able to create life as well.
-I don't know how could I thank thee.
-Don't worry, this is just a gift, I won't make you pay for it. You have left me satisfied and I'm feeling generous, that's all.
Then one very important detail, that Sauron had almost forgotten amid the tide of pleasure, re-emerged in his head:
-Maybe this will seem like an abuse to thee, my Lord. But I'd like to ask thee something now, before it's too late. Please, spare Glaurung's life and don't let the Orcs mistreat my servant. I only ask thee that.
Melkor rolled his eyes and groaned sulkily.
-You take advantage of my weakness and my fatigue. But whatever, I forgive them both! I didn't even remember that issue. In fact, I find it completely irrelevant. All I want to do now is resting and sleeping.
Sauron knew when he wasn't needed in some place, and seeing his master closing his eyes exhausted, he stood up from the bed and began to pick his clothes, scattered all over the bedroom's floor.
-What do you think you are doing!? -yelled a voice behind him.
Turning around, he ran into the aflame look and angry expression of his master. Very little time had lasted his post-climax calm, indeed.
-My Lord Melkor, I was just gathering my things to leave. Since thou saidst thou wantedst to sleep ...
-Oh, very nice! So after enjoying my body, after possessing me, you leave without further ado, right? Ungrateful one, this is how you thank me for all that I've given you!
Sauron turned pale and he choked on the words.
-I... I... I thought thou didst not need me anymore... I was going to reorganize the Orcs, who have fled in disarray and now roam aimlessly around Angband. I fear that there's any disturbance and...
-Orcs! All this time, while you made love to me, you were thinking about the nasty Orcs!?
-No, my Lord, I thought of thee! Of the Orcs I have only thought now but...
-Go back into bed immediately!
The lieutenant realized that arguing at that time was a suicidal course of action, and jumped back into bed, and put an arm around the waist of the Vala to appease him.
-I haven't given you permission to put that arm there! -Sauron withdrew his arm at once and Melkor frowned.- But I haven't commanded you to withdraw it either. Embrace me again.
The poor Maia surrounded him with his arm once more, annoyed.
-Fine, I want you to stay here with me while I sleep and to contemplate me. And to reflect on how infinitely fortunate you are for being thus, besides the most powerful god of Arda. And to watch my crown of Silmarils, of course.
The lieutenant nodded, and hold him tightly to his chest, for him to sleep in peace. The Vala gave off a very nice warmth, and the touch of his soft skin and the hair between his legs awoke again Sauron's animal instincts. Of course, he couldn't deny that he felt fortunate, but his satisfaction wasn't complete still.
-I sense that you have still concern in your heart, Sauron. –murmured Melkor amid a yawn.- Tell me what it is.
-Forgive me for insisting, my Lord, but I'm mulling over the matter of the Orcs. I can't stay calm knowing that they swarm out there in freedom and disorder. Just as Glaurung. And I worry about the safety of my human, since the orders concerning his punishment remain unclear. And perhaps, after the stampede of the dragon, the Noldor will want to start a counter-attack.
Melkor hissed through his gritted teeth.
-You are a really tedious bed mate, Sauron. Maybe I should have called Gothmog to my chambers, instead of you.
Then a sudden idea took shape in the mind of the lieutenant, and a brief flash of mischief crossed the glassy surface of his right eye.
-That is it, my Lord, call Gothmog to thy chambers.
Melkor seemed confused, and even a little shy.
-Do you want that we all three make love together, me and you and Gothmog? I thought you hated him.
Sauron struggled to scare that awful image away from his head.
-No, my Lord, no! What I mean is that Gothmog could stay in charge of everything while I accompany thee in thy rest.
-Oh! Of course! -and Melkor looked away so his lieutenant couldn't discover the small disappointment in his eyes.
Right after, he placed the crown of Silmarils on his head again, hid the burn of his hand beneath the glove, and called the name of the Balrog at the top of his lungs for him to come to his chambers.
A few minutes later, some slow and heavy footsteps echoed in the hall outside, and the door opened. Gothmog's face upon bursting in the bedroom was worth seeing.
For a moment, even the flames surrounding his head were frozen in place, his jaw hung as dislocated by a blow, and his wide and unbelieving eyes fell alternately on the naked body of the Vala, and on the not less naked body of his rival. Sauron was situated just behind Melkor, and while the latter explained to the Balrog what he had to do in Angband, the lieutenant ran his finger through the ribs, the waist and the hip bone of his master, with the most wicked grin of triumph painted on his face. And his eyes, staring intently at the Balrog, seemed to say: "Look, Gothmog, look who is the favourite of the master Melkor."
Given this, Gothmog had to content himself shooting a murderous look at the lieutenant, with clenched teeth and fists trembling from anger.
Sauron enjoyed that moment almost more than what he had enjoyed mating with Melkor. The existence of the entire universe was justified for him, just because he could see how the fire that enveloped Gothmog passed in a second from red to green out of envy.
Meanwhile, Melkor's instructions reached the ears of the demon as nothing more than a background murmur.
-Gothmog, are you listening to me?! -the Balrog tottered, startled by the shout of the Vala, and laid his eyes on the body of his Lord, which disturbed him so much.- May I know what are you doing standing there like a fool, and what are you looking at so intrigued!? Go away to obey my orders!
Gothmog nodded, mumbled a "Yes, my Lord", and stumbled out of the bedroom without really knowing what he had actually been ordered.
After this, Melkor left the crown on the bedpost, threw the glove to the floor, and pressed against his lieutenant again, hoping to sleep in peace this time. Before plunging into the pit of unconsciousness, he asked one last question to the Maia:
-Sauron, if I ever (I'm not saying that it will happen, but just imagine it to be so), if I ever was banished to the cold and desolate Void, would you accompany me in my exile?
The lieutenant stroked his cheek gently.
-No, my Lord, I wouldn't accompany thee. Because I would stay in Middle Earth to make sure thy legacy remains on it for as long as possible. But if despite everything, I finally failed and was defeated, and they sent me to the cold and desolate Void as well, with my Lord, then I wouldn't take this as a punishment. I would take it as the most desired and deserved prize after so many centuries of painstaking effort, because I could be forever by thy side, and embrace thee, and release thee no more.
Melkor bit his lip, a little displeased.
-Well, I will decide whether that answer of yours satisfies me or whether it annoys me deeply, when I wake up.
And saying this, he closed his eyes and fell asleep. He had left his head on the shoulder of Sauron, and the Maia knew immediately that it would hurt later. But thus must it be with Melkor: a fleeting sparkle of bliss, followed by an eternity of torment.
Very carefully, he brushed a strand of hair from his face and dared to kiss his closed eyelids. Then stretched the sheets over the body of both.
He thought about the situation in which he and the Vala had been left after what had happened. There they were: the Dark Lord and the fearsome lieutenant of Angband embracing in a bed, and just for once, neither of them planned anything evil or terrifying.
They simply "were".
No doubt Eru, rather than crying, was laughing at such a sight, far away in the Timeless Halls.
But frankly, Sauron could not care less.
Well, that's all for now. I hope you enjoyed this story as much as I enjoyed writing it, and as always, reviews are very much welcomed.