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Dark Songs of Power

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Pain.

 

Pain everywhere. A part of him wished that he had not listened to Sauron’s Ringlore from the beginning, or had revealed where he had hidden them, but he had been broken. The only relief left in his heart was that he had managed to keep quiet about the three most powerful of his creations, despite everything Sauron did to him. He was barely aware of his body, being little more than a broken shell, knowing his life was at its end.  

 

Uncle Maglor… please… protect… my...

 

As Celebrimbor drew his last breath, his sight misting over, he could have sworn that he heard a Dwarven battle-cry echoing, its armies marching against the hosts of Sauron:  “ Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!

 

And then he was no more.


Far away from the ruins of Eregion a scream in horror echoed along the sea beach. It was a raw scream of grief and anger, cursing the world and the darkness which once more had stolen the life of royal blood. And seemingly in answer, at the bottom of the Great Sea, a glowing stone crusted over with growth and minerals suddenly blazed.

 

The Silmaril shone as bright as Eärendil’s Star, as if its maker’s might had been rekindled—two small shards of unbreakable crystal splintered away, a sentient mind behind them hot with purpose. They floated to the surface, propelled by the undercurrents of the Sea, and drifted toward a small golden beach, where a prostrate figure lay…

 

~X~X~X~X~X~X

 

Second Age of the Sun, year 3319, Númenor :

 

No one among the people of Númenor felt safe any more, at least those who were among the Faithful and knew that if their devotion to the Elves of Tol Eressëa and the Valar was revealed, they would be killed. A single wrong word, or just bad luck, and they risked becoming the next sacrifice Sauron would give through the cult of Melkor inside the Temple, a fate feared by anyone who was not among the King's Men.

 

The Temple in question was a round building that was five hundred feet tall, five hundred feet in diameter, had walls that were fifty feet thick at the base, and topped by a huge, blackened dome of silver which had a louver in the center to let out smoke from burnt offerings.

 

“Hey! Who goes there?”  

 

The Temple Guards, who were only there to show off the King's power, turned toward the wanderer who came toward the entrance. They initially thought it was just a beggar, but relaxed when they saw what he pulled along. The man was dressed, moreover, in the cloak of a certain labourer who wandered the Isle for odd jobs.

 

“Pardon me. May I ask for where the way to the altar is? I have found a little traitor here.”

 

The captive in question was one of those endless orphans who were often found begging or stealing for survival in the capital, former noble sons and daughters of the Faithful whose families had disappeared—fair game for anyone seeking to curry favor with Ar-Pharazôn. Oh well, the less of those brats that grew up to become prostitutes and thieves that caused chaos on the streets, the better.  

 

“I will bring one of the lesser priests,” one of the Guards answered. “No one else is allowed to enter—”

 

It happened in a flash. Before either could react the cloaked figure suddenly drew a long sword and cut them down, instantly. Their bodies fell, headless, and their helmets rolled down the stairs with blood training behind.

 

A flash of blinding light emanated from his fingers, for a moment, then vanished.

 

“I shall go where I please,” their killer answered curtly, releasing his bundle which started to struggle now that it was free. As its wraps fell away, the man banged the door with the pommel of his blade.

 

~X~X~X~X~X~X

 

The priests serving under Sauron, the Head Priest, dragged a new victim to the inner sanctum of the Temple. Behind them marched a troop of Temple Guards.

 

The victim, a woman who struggled with all her might, was none other than Aurië, the wife of Elendil, who had freely walked to the Temple in the small hope of bringing her husband and two sons time to escape from Númenor. She was not afraid, knowing that even the smallest moments bought was a way to keep her family safe.

 

“Lord Sauron should be pleased with this sacrifice…” one the priests said; the other agreed. They reached the closed final door and tugged on it.

 

For some odd reason it refused to open. A big mystery, as there was no lock on it.

 

“Open the door!”

 

No answer from the other side of the door—had the servants attempted to block off any relatives who desperately tried to save those meant for the flames? That shouldn’t be right.

 

The priest banged on the door again—the lights on the wall blew out in answer. They started and turned to look back in unison, sensing something was off. The soldiers moved closer together, drawing their swords.

 

Out of the darkness came slow, plodding footsteps. They clanked.

 

“Intruder! Identify yourself!” an accompanying soldier shouted.

 

In response, a small red light flashed as if a light were cast upon a ring. Then a far more brighter light shone with it, followed by a commanding voice as hard as iron and terrible as steel.

 

“Where is Sauron?”

 

In answer the soldiers charged.

 

What followed was a scene of brutal carnage. A sword accompanying the brighter light swung out of nowhere and chopped a man in half, cutting apart from the left shoulder down. The blade curved away from the wall on the backstroke and sliced into another, sending him tumbling down.

 

Click-Fizzt!

 

A bolt of iron zipped past the fighting and struck down a priest, renting his garments as it punched through his body. The other one backed up, almost tripping over Aurië’s body, and started banging on the door. Another soldier somehow intercepted the next bolt, his head exploding like an overripe fruit.

 

“Help us!” the priest shouted.

 

The sword, now like living lightning, decapitated another soldier, severing through his attempted block easily—Númenorean steel folded like paper. One even attempted to bash his shield into the enemy but only got his head bashed in by a gauntleted fist.

 

The remainder of the Temple Guards, numbering two, started retreating back to the door, shields raised. This was a costly mistake, as they exposed themselves to the crossbow-wielder’s aim. A bolt broke one’s arm, causing him to collapse. The last Guard, back now against the door, started to scream.

 

Both his screams and the last priest’s struggles were silenced.

 

“My lady. I suggest that you leave this kingdom all together. The Doom of the Valar is coming.”

 

A hand tore away Aurië’s gag and rent her bonds. She started rubbing circulation back into her wrists as she looked up to thank her rescuers. She froze—in the light cast from their hands, she saw an extraordinarily tall man, raven-haired and tired, shadowed by a smaller, hooded figure.

 

She realized he must be an Elf, for no living man was as tall as he. But it was not height alone that marked him. It was his eyes, grey and tormented. She dropped her gaze. As she did she saw that one of his hands was not covered in armor, and was black moreover. Almost as if he had grasped something hot right from the fire.

 

“Y… Yes, sir,” she demurred. She struggled to her feet, aided momentarily when the shadow reached out a gloved hand and pulled her up. “Sauron is in the main chamber, sirs,” she added breathlessly.

 

“Go!” the shadow hissed. Aurië nodded and hurried off, never looking back.

 

The Elf meanwhile strode to the door, stopped, then levered the flat of his foot upon its unyielding timber. The door splintered with a mighty crack and it fell in.

 

Their way clear, the two warriors marched in.

 

~X~X~X~X~X~X

 

Inside the Temple, Sauron was sitting on his black seat where he could overlook the sacrifices in the huge fires on the altar. He was exceedingly pleased with how he had managed to bring about the ensnarement of Ar-Pharazôn to the worship of Melkor, and now at last his vengeance against the Valar would be complete.

 

“A shame I hadn’t managed to catch the queen, Tar-Míriel, as well…” he mused

 

Well, it did not matter too much right now. The queen was powerless, fearing him to the point that she was unable to do anything to protest against these human sacrifices. She was a smart woman, that Sauron could tell, but her cousin and husband Ar-Pharazôn was the dominant one in their loveless marriage, which still had not borne fruit in a child.  

 

But where was those human priests under his command? Surely it was not that hard to catch one of the Faithful nowadays? The sound of footsteps was heard coming towards him.

 

“Ah, that is better. Hopefully it may be someone high-ranking among the Faithful this time….”

 

Suddenly his attention was caught by the large sacrifice fire going out, as if it had only been a mere ember someone blew on, and a complete darkness fell over the chamber, for the sky was grey and overcast, and there were no windows inside the chamber outside the smoky louver.

 

What is this?! I ensured that it would keep burning all day earlier! his mind raged with annoyance. Seeking light Sauron manifested a sphere of flame in one hand, rising from his seat to relight the altar.

 

However, by lightning the fire in his hand, he revealed himself in the darkness. A faint song was heard, despite Sauron being sure that he had been alone in the chamber.

 

That tongue… old Quenya from Valinor!?

 

The cold steel of a drawn sword was hinted in the his small fire, but Sauron still failed to duck in time and a wave of his own blood flew out from the deep cut in his left shoulder. Any second later and his whole back would have taken that hit.

 

AAAAAAGH!! ” he screamed. Cursing his own carelessness Sauron summoned more light as he staggered away from his bold attacker. The fires illuminated a breastplate as it surged toward him, an eight-rayed star of mithril glowing.

 

You should never have tricked my nephew into forging the Rings of Power, Sauron, ” Maglor Fëanorion spoke in a cold voice, his grey eyes showing no mercy as he took another step forwards, his sword lifting for a new strike. Above them, thunder had started clashing in the sky, foretelling an approaching storm. Sauron cursed that he had trapped himself in a body not suited for combat, nor had he given thought to arms or armor, being safe in his own dominion. Against one of the last sons of Fëanor he risked bodily death.

 

So alike his father in that madness of his… too alike!

 

It was not normal for Sauron to feel fear, but when it came to the House of Fëanor he was not too comfortable with that spiritual strength given by their terrible Oath to hunt all who hoarded the Silmarilli.

 

Against the light of his fell fires, Sauron glimpsed something shine brightly in response upon Maglor’s finger. His eyes widened. How had he got a Ring himself? Had Celebrimbor managed to entrust one of the three hidden Rings to him? Then he recognized the glowing gemstone set within, and mortal fear overtook him.

 

A voice started singing—female, and hardened with wrath.

 

Mairon, Mairon, your loyalty you forswore,

In the footsteps of Morgoth you followed down to ruin evermore,

Yet bested by an elven girl and a hound from Valinor.

 

Sauron snarled and tore off his bloodstained robe off him. Throwing it toward Maglor, in an effort to confound him, he made a mad scramble for the doors opposite them, and started pulling upon them. Locked. Then he whirled about to guard his back.

 

Annatar, Annatar you named yourself,

Claimed Giver of Gifts but instead a gulf,

Thou spake honeyed words of lies,

And made Rings to fated demise.

 

The halves of his black garments fluttered to the ground as Maglor advanced upon him. His eyes were fell as he lifted his sword, showing the depth of his kin’s wrath that made even Melkor himself fearful.

 

I've hunted for you high an’ low; I've looked you in the eye.

To bring thee down I have ever pondered, to send thy plan awry;

To bring about thine doom, to make this fallen Maia die.

 

Sauron darted to Maglor’s left, hoping to escape through one of the side doors, when a vice of pain closed about his leg with a sharp click . He screamed and sank down to his knees. He had stepped into a trap, the kind which hunters used to ensnare mountain cats or bears, and it pinned him. But before he could tear it apart three arrow bolts sank into his back, forcing him to contend with new pains.

 

Saruon, Sauron, betrayer of the Maker’s word,

Ancient as the world yet doomed by thy deeds, oh how absurd;

For thy crimes, thou shalt pay; scream and cry, but it shall be unheard.

 

Maglor lifted his sword a third time, swung, and severed the tendons in his other leg. Sauron was crippled. Sheathing the blade the Elf warrior grabbed the chains used to restrain sacrificial victims upon the altar, and bound the Maia.

 

Fear the House of Fëanor;

We hunt thee from shore to shore,

Our cry, within your ear, evermore

And now thy blood we shall pour.

 

Maglor smiled as he pulled upon the chains, a smile that echoed from the First Age in the madness of his father. The female voice reached a crescendo as he finished his work:

 

Long ye have hid, long ye have fled

For the wrath of Fëanor rightly fills thee with dread.

And now doom is upon thee: we will have your head!

 

“My, where is my manners?” Maglor asked, sneering at Sauron. “Forgetting to introduce the last remaining member of my House alive apart myself… Do you remember Celebrimbor, Sauron, Ringmaker?”

 

The Maia glowered at him.

 

“I have brought someone who very much desires to meet you. She is eager to make your acquaintance, and in what better place than here?”

 

Maglor stepped aside, and the shadow-singer moved into view. Shorter than an Elf, clothed such as to hide away her body, there was a smoldering anger beneath that seemed all disproportionate in size. Now with her hood drawn away, the light of a red ring illuminated dark-skinned features, which framed ice cold eyes that glared at Sauron.

 

No light of the Eldar shone within her, nor was she of Men. With a start Sauron realized this was one of those rare Dwarven females. For some reason, this particular one felt familiar—

 

“I am Frëja Khelebrimboriel,” she stated. “You’ve killed my father. We have come for you.”

 

“Dearest great-niece of mine,” Maglor crooned. “I believe you have something special for him.”

 

She nodded.

 

Sauron glared knives of burning, impotent hatred at them. Something in the Song she had sung constrained his Maiarin abilities. He could do nothing.

 

Frëja reached into her pocket and pulled out a vial. She uncorked it and poured some of the thick, dark liquid upon a finger. Smearing it upon her lips she stepped closer to Sauron, and knelt before him.

 

Grabbing hold of his now blood-stained tunic she pulled him in for a deep kiss—one which he tried in vain to avoid. He felt whatever she had put on enter his mouth, and he swallowed involuntarily.  Feeling this, she released him and stood. Wiping her mouth with a sleeve she accepted another vial from Maglor, this time with a milky substance within.

 

“What have you done to me?” Sauron gritted at them. “I am a god!”

 

“A mixture of the most painful and deadliest poisons my great-niece's people have concocted,” Maglor told him. “Be honored, Annatar, for we have given you a gift—you shall be the first to know if it works or not. Pray that it does.”

 

Sauron would have been cursing them had he not suddenly started vomiting up blood. Fire spread from his mouth to his whole body, scorching his lungs, changing to ice in the next moment, numbing all feeling before erupting into stabbing pains all over—adding onto, and doubling, the pain of the leghold trap and the tight chains.

 

He screamed, a terminal cry of agony, and it echoed throughout the chamber.

 

“This is only the beginning of pains my atto suffered at your hands, Annatar,” Frëja spoke to him. “I intend to repay it fully.”

 

She opened her mouth and sang. It was a Song of Power, more potent than the last, the strength of Fëanor’s House joined unto the Dwarven kin of Khazad-dûm. Behind her glowed an image of the Doors of Durin, the masterpiece created by her parents to symbolize the joining of both races.

 

And Sauron felt pain.

 

Even as his physical body wracked and twisted from the consuming fire of poison, his very fëa started shivering as hammer blows began striking. Not since the War of Wrath had he felt pain like this—the combined lineages of the Eldar and Khazâd was so unfamiliar to him that he had no defense against it.

 

Maglor looked around with detached interest, even as he knew that the Doom of the Valar was fast approaching. No, not even that. An older, more primal power had stirred. Even as his great-niece deconstructed the Great Temple in counterpoint to Sauron’s torture his eyes tracked a sudden crack from the outside that was not of her doing.

 

“Frëja dear, I am afraid we cannot play with Sauron anymore. Especially as I do not believe your parents would be too happy with me if I let you drown.”

 

She stopped singing at his words, looking over her shoulder. She may not have the keen eyesight of her paternal race, but she could see what was coming against Númenor—against the overcast sky was a tsunami, so large that it seemed to brush the tops of the clouds. Below the Isle the waters churned and boiled as they receded, great ravines forming in the newly exposed oceanic floor.

 

“You’re right,” she grumped.

 

They then heard cries from outside:

 

What is happening inside the Temple?!

 

The guards and priests have been murdered! Find the High Priest!

 

They would have to leave before they were set upon by the King’s Men, who scrambled to gather around Sauron for protection as the wrath of Ilúvatar drew nigh.

 

“Let’s go, Frëja. The harbour will be relatively empty. Let us make haste.”

 

As they departed a sharp crack cut through the air. The ground beneath started to heave as the very mountain upon which the Temple stood started to crumble. Maglor and Frëja jumped from rock to rock, avoiding holes that opened suddenly and drops that appeared right where they were least expected.

 

A shout echoed, one of the King’s Men had spotted them, but they were so far away that it made little difference. They followed a predetermined path that would get them to the harbour quicker—and their journey may be cut short, for as the sea receded into the Uttermost West, and as ground quakes broke the land, their destination drew ever nearer.

 

“I only hope that we will not be caught by the wave!” Frëja called out as she landed with a thump on relatively solid ground, below sea level at that.

 

“Who said so, young one?” Maglor asked rhetorically, a grin splitting his features. For the first time in centuries he felt a most supreme joy coursing throughout his body, arming him with a liquid fire, for on this day he had gotten the better of Sauron Gorthaur at last.

 

“I did!” she shouted.

 

To which he answered only with a joyous laugh.

 

~X~X~X~X~X~X

 

It was with great sorrow that Elendil upon his nine ships saw the great Isle of Númenor collapse beneath a mighty tsunami, the roar of nature drowning all other noise. His ships were far enough away that they would be unaffected, but much life had been lost, and many of the Faithful with their families were now spirits haunting the deep.

 

“Farewell, King Elros,” he whispered, tears in his eyes. The legacy of the first great King of Men who served the Valar now lay beneath the waves. Beside him Aurië bowed her head, clinging to him as the troubled waters caught their ship and disturbed its course.

 

When she lifted her head Aurië spied something upon the froth, drawing near. “My lord,” she said. “Over there! The man who saved my life!”

 

“Where?”

 

The dark shape of flotsam drew close, and clinging to the broken wreckage were two figures, their clothing soaked through. Elendil saw they had only barely escaped the greater part of the tsunami and survived out of sheer tenacity.

 

Acting quickly he flung out a wooden lifesaver toward them. It splashed in the water and both figures grabbed onto it with relief. With a mighty heave, Elendil personally dragged them aboard his ship. It was not for nothing he was called the Tall.

 

“Get these two belowdecks and comfortable immediately!” he ordered. As his men rushed forward and hustled the new arrivals below, Elendil went to the tiller. “We set sail for Middle-earth!”

 

An hour later, belowdecks and nursing hot cups and wrapped in blankets, Maglor and Frëja rested, their vengeance fulfilled. Maglor in particular reflected on the great irony that, after all these years of pain and suffering, he had done the one thing his family had been cursed to fail at—exacting justice against one of the Ainur. Perhaps the One whose Hand threw down Númenor had overseen it.

 

“I wish I’d been able to give him some more,” Frëja was ranting, her great-uncle having worked his tired skill to transform her appearance to that of a human girl. “He should be grateful that amad has not been alive for twenty-five centuries, else he’d have tasted Dwarven steel down his throat!”

 

Maglor smiled. “I do not doubt that,” he answered. “My family seems to have been drawn to a special kind of lady, and no doubt I am sure that your father followed suit when they were married.” He spoke of her Celebrimbor her father, and mother, Narvi. Despite all that they had done, he knew that Sauron would continue to live, however weakened he may be. And vengeance would grow in his heart for centuries after this.

 

But he had new reason to fear the dying House of Fëanor, for however impotent it was, there was still life in its scions. Maglor planned to immortalize this in a special song, a cautionary tale to all who underestimated the families who stuck together. Particularly Fëanor’s children.

 

Sauron’s one mistake had been ignorance of Celebrimbor’s relationship to the Dwarven stonemasons of Khazad-dûm. No one save those closest to him knew that he had married. A most costly mistake. And now Frëja, his daughter, would take leadership in Celebrimbor’s memory and reforge the Dwarves into a strong nation. Already Maglor could see the council between Gil-galad and Elendil, as they plotted to free Middle-earth, with Frëja the Warrior-Queen held in their close confidence.

 

And Maglor himself shall mourn no longer for the sins of the past. Instead he planned to help his only surviving relative, and all her allies, pave forward a new future, until Sauron was permanently overthrown.

 

And by Aulë’s Beard he intended to make good on it.