There is no time in the depths of Angband. Only an eternity of searing agony, measured in screams and curses.
I know not how long I have been here. Days…weeks…months…
There is nothing left of me but nerves afire with pain upon pain upon pain. I have spoken nothing but curses spat forth in rage. I nurse my anger and hate. They are all that give me strength.
My one prayer: that death will come quickly.
Then suddenly, the tortures cease. I still shake and shiver uncontrollably from the pain of my wounds, my breath ragged in the silence, awaiting the next onslaught.
The lieutenant of Morgoth comes forward, and tries something new. He strokes my hair slowly and some of the pain recedes. He speaks to me in a voice as terrible as the edge of an iron sword, as seductive as silk on skin.
“I can see your heart’s desire, young prince. Other things you may hide from me, but this—ah, this dark, dark desire you cannot. How you burn. How you lust. And what if I said that you could have it? Yes. The golden princess for your bed. As you dream each night, and each day…”
Through the pain, I feel the heat. I feel the abyss of longing within me, that has burned, unsated, for so long. Images of Itarillë fill my mind. Responsive. Eager. Mine.
“Yes. Yours. Utterly. Devotedly. For a simple word. An easy word.” The voice of silk whispers in my ear. “Where is the secret city?”
I can barely breathe for the war of desire and will within me. I think I might die. I wish I would.
There is no patience in the heart of Morgoth. “Well?” A voice deep and molten like the earth’s depths, terrible as the frozen wastes of the Helcaraxë. “Mairon, I begin to tire of this game.”
“A moment, my liege…” Sauron’s voice is a caress. “Yes, sweet prince. Your every fantasy fulfilled. Your deepest dream made real. Come. How easy it is. A beauty for your bed. A bright crown for your head. Love. Power. Glory. Just tell us where…”
Glory and power...were that all they have to dangle before me, I might withstand it. But love. . .
Itarillë. Her eyes, her voice, her skin. I am nothing but heat and burning lust. Sauron’s fiery eyes stare into mine and smile. Images assault my mind, and sensations wrack my body. I groan with need so great that the earlier torments seem nothing next to it. The ache, the need, the void is so deep.
“I will tell you…” I hear my voice.
I hear the words spill forth. They hang in the air so briefly. Nothing can take them back. Nothing.
Deep within, I scream denial.
Sauron laughs. Morgoth rumbles.
“I have said it. Let me go.” Horror and despair crawl within me.
They are not done.
“Excellent. A bargain, fair prince. All that remains is to seal it with blood.”
The sound of chains. A prisoner dragged in by the arms by two orcs. He lies limp upon the filthy ground. White skin smeared with dirt. Slender limbs. Hair that once was fair. Chains on hands that were dragging against the floor are now lifted next to mine. We hang, side by side. The head of the other is fallen forward. Hair once gold matted with filth and blood.
“One thing only is needed, and you will be released. Bind yourself to us with blood,” says the smooth voice I loathe. The orcs begin their torture. The moans and cries of the prisoner begin. And go on… and on.
“Stop!” I say brokenly. “Stop. What do you want from me?”
My shackles are released. I crumple to the filthy ground, breath ragged, limbs like water.
The silken voice of the Lieutenant of Angband: “Your soul.”
A morgûl knife is slid into my hand.
“No…” I whisper.
The screams go on. Echo off the cold stone walls.
The laughter of orcs, and of Sauron.
“Choose, slave.” The deep growl of Morgoth. “End his wretched life and gain your freedom. Or descend into the pit with him.”
Weakly rising to my feet. The blade cold in my hand. Swaying, turning to face the other who hangs from the wall.
Beneath matted hair once golden, hollow grey eyes stare. Grey pools of pain upon pain. And in the broken beauty of that face, Glorfindel looks back at me. I shudder in shock.
“Well?” Lord Sauron’s silken voice in my ear. Morgoth’s lieutenant reaches out a hand to caress the prisoner’s bruised and bloody cheek. “This once was as beautiful as you.” Then rakes long nails deeply through one arm.
The prisoner screams.
“Stop!” I cry. “Stop! I beg you.”
Grey eyes lift to meet mine. In the abyss of pain in the prisoner’s eyes, I see a faint flicker. A spirit still brave, unbroken after fifty years. And a mute appeal for release.
I grip the knife hilt in shaking hands. With my remaining strength, push the blade into the brave soul’s heart. The grey eyes hold my own to the last. Dark blood spurts forth on my hands, my face.
A ghostly shadow of a smile lifts a corner of the prisoner’s mouth. I swear it.
The white fëa departs.
I fall weeping to the ground before the lifeless body on the wall.
Black laughter fills the chamber. I am lifted from the floor. My feet dangle in the air.
“Well done, servant of Melkor,” says the voice of silk and iron. “A golden princess won. And a place in the kingdom of unlight.”
Sauron strokes my face. I scream in agony.
Then a song, flooding the chamber with light. A tall, white being is there, radiant with the glory of the Ainur, winds of power flowing over his form and lifting golden hair.
Sauron and Morgoth give terrible cries, and fade.
I am held in warm, strong arms, and the pain dissipates as I feel myself wrapped in waves of light and love, as his light flows into my unlight.
“You’re safe,” he says softly as I wake, shaking and sobbing. He holds me to his chest, his arms wrapped warm around me. “It’s over. It was only a dream. You’re safe.”
I push myself out of his arms and fall out of the bed.
“Melmenya!” he reaches for me, alarmed.
“Stay out of my mind!” I cry out, my voice terrible in my own ears. “You have no right—no right—get out!—stay out of my mind!” And I run into the bathchamber, slamming the door shut in his face.
The anger and pain are so deep I can barely think or breathe. I am still shaking. I sit in the dark, cold chamber, the light of the stars falling upon me through a high window. Rage, terror, shame, that the most secret part of me, the darkest, has been violated.
How much did he see? How much does he know? How dare he, how dare he. How dare he trespass into my secret hell…
I weep with the grief and shame and self-loathing that this dream always brings, the darkest dream that has haunted me through the years. That haunted me to madness in the long years at Gondolin that I waited. Waited with Sauron’s silken voice in my mind, his black leash upon my heart, and his choking gag upon my tongue. Waited for the hordes of Angband to arrive.
A dream that has haunted me almost weekly at Imladris…that goes beyond the horror of that black moment of treachery, and all the ruin and death that followed after.
A dream of hollow grey eyes and faded golden hair. A familiar form seen in the horrors of hell.
The taking of a Firstborn life.
The moment the blade slid in. Over and over again I see it. The blade going in. My hands pushing it home. The dark blood flowing. The blade sinking in. Over and over.
Agonizing over what was in my heart and mind as my hands pushed it home.
Whether it was pity and awe. For the brave soul that had endured the black pits of Angband since the Battle of the Sudden Flame…
Or whether terror that the brave one’s fate could be mine…
Or hatred for the elflord whose hair he wore.
The same elflord who waits for me, outside this chamber door.
I do not know how long I stay in there. In the midst of my pain, my love and longing rise in me. I recall the hurt in his azure eyes as I shut the door on him. I think of the warmth and comfort of his arms. And I am filled with need for him again.
My anger has fallen to cold ashes. I am left with terror that enters my heart like ice. That tells me he knows. Knows now the shame of my treachery… why I broke… why I sold my soul… why I slew that tormented shadow with his hair.
Pain grips my heart so tightly I can barely breathe. I will see the love die in his eyes. See horror and condemnation in its stead. See tenderness fade and hatred burn.
I feel him outside the door. It takes all my courage to open it. He is there. In his haunted eyes I see that he knows my dream.
I wait for the death stroke to my heart.
He comes to me and takes my face gently in his hands. His glittering violet eyes, looking into mine, are full of pain. Tears begin to spill down his face.
“I am so sorry,” he says huskily. “So sorry that happened to you.”
He wraps his warm, strong arms around me tightly and rocks me gently as my fractured, strangled words choke out between wracking sobs.
“I was weak—weak…I tried to be strong. I wanted to die—I should have died…it should have been I who died there. I…I killed him—I was so weak…Sauron broke me—broke me like a twig…I killed them all—I killed them all…I killed you…”
And he strokes my hair and holds me, his own tears falling on my shoulder and into my hair as he shares my pain. He kisses my mouth, and we taste each other’s tears.
“You were brave,” he says. “You were strong. Anyone would have broken in your place.”
It is not true. I know he would never have broken. I know his fëa. In a thousand years he would have been yet unconquered by Angband, his shining soul pure as snow and his strong heart unyielding and true as a diamond. Uncorrupted. Undefeated. Like the golden-haired warrior whom I slew.
He lifts me in his arms and carries me to the bed and loves me with a passion slow and deep and tender. As though his kisses can purge away guilt and shame. As though his caresses can sooth away the aching emptiness that betrayed a city, and his touch can wipe out the defilement of Sauron’s hand. He takes my body to new heights of pleasure as a salve for all the tortures that wracked it, the giving of his life-seed an absolution for all the deaths…and for his own.
Two seasons have passed since. Winter is upon us.
My dream of Angband has not returned.
Each night in the warm cocoon of our bed, he offers me his song and his light in my dreams. Dream by dream, he casts out the darkness. Slowly defeats it. Drives it back into the abyss.
When I wake, he offers comfort the only way he knows how. With the sweetness of his kisses and the passionate love of his warm body in mine.
Could any love could last till the unmaking of all things? I dare not believe it. But I shall treasure what I have each day. This love I do not deserve. That gazed into the abyss of my black soul and the shadows of my darkest dream, and chose to love me still.
A love that is teaching me day by day to trust...
That he will keep my secrets safe.
And that he will always walk gently in my dreams.