Actions

Work Header

Changing Shades

Chapter Text

“How strange it is to look at one self” — Sauron mumbled to himself.

In front of him in the soft light of the great lamps, Illuin and Ormal, was Mairon. He sat at his preferred spot on all of Almaren. His place of peace and reflection. It was on a high hill and one could see both lamps in the distance of the north and south. There, surrounded by trees and flowers and songs by birds, Mairon eagerly tried to take note of his thoughts. He hastily wrote and drew his ideas down in his notebook, one which he always carried with him in case of sudden inspiration and genius.
Sauron Moved up close to get a better look at his younger self. So fair he was. His ash red hair, long and soft lay on his shoulders and back like a river. His golden eyes fixed on his notes and fast hand. His hands, long and strong. His skin, pale but with a passionate glow. So fair indeed.
Sauron looked at him as one would a ghost. Fascinated. An impossible wonder, and yet here he was! Admiring his past self; Mairon the admirable.
Sauron looked at his hand to compare. It was hard to believe that the elegant hand of Mairon, was indeed the same hand of Sauron. Black and bony. Skin cracking with red smoke coming out of each crevice. Sauron remembered the last time he saw his hideous image in the reflection of his wine. No hair on a skull only covered with a thin layer of dry grey skin, cracks of red running across the face, black holes where the nose was supposed to be found, and two yellow glowing marble eyes starred back at him. It was a monstrous appearance. He had lost all of his fair forms, but at that point, he wasn’t sure if he truly cared anymore.
Sauron lifted his black hands to feel his face. For too long had he not been able to take any physical shape after he lost the ring of power. Curiously he mapped his traits. He had a nose. His skin felt more full and it didn’t have too many cracks. He had hair. Thin and brittle, but he had hair.
As he moved about, his body was more of smoke than flesh. He moved his arms to examine it further. Any fast movement and they disappeared in the air, but as soon as they were held still, they formed again into arms. Sauron laughed to himself.

“Of course” — he said and shook his head with a smile. He was defeated after all. The ring destroyed.

“To think that the smallest of creatures was able to bring down the mightiest of beings” — He wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it. He would have laughed if anyone had told him that that was to be his fate.

“Hobbits!” — The word formed in his mouth like a poisonous smoke and he spat it out as a venomous snake.

His face showed every bit of the disgust, hate and wrath he harboured for those rats. He sighed deeply. Calmed himself. There was no need to get upset now. Now he needed to figure out were he was. He looked around. Yes, yes, it was indeed Almaren, and that was indeed Mairon that sat before him. Was this the void? What else could it be? Was this a punishment of the Valar? To mock his ugly, horrible form by showing him his former fairer, “purer” self? A sick game to play. No doubt they watched him right now, wondering if he would come crying and begging for forgiveness. Well, if that’s what they expect of him they will surely be disappointed. Never again will he kneel before them and call them masters!
A strong wind blew and made the trees with their flowers dance. Mairon’s hair danced along. Then he was interrupted in his thoughts when the sound of the bells rose from the city below.

“Oh dear!” — He whispered with hardly any sound in daunting realisation — “Is thAT THE TIME!?”
He jumped from the bench, grabbed his belongings in all hast and ran as ungraciously as a human towards the city. Sauron sighed at the sight and covered his face. He remembered in great agony his past embarrassing behaviour.

“Follow him” — A voice commanded.

Sauron flinched. He looked around but no one was there. The voice was familiar. He was certain he had heard it before, long ago, and yet he couldn’t put a face to it.

“Follow him!” — it repeated louder, almost painfully loud, in his head.

He pressed his hands against his ears and gritted his teeth. If only that coward would dare show himself, Sauron would tear him to shreds! Warm blood. Taste of Iron. Sauron was nearly drunk by the thought of murder. But he quickly gathered himself. He knew not yet where he was and who exactly his jailor was, so resistance at this point would be foolish. He had no advantages. Yet.
So with great annoyance he chose to comply and followed Mairon.

Sauron flowed above Mairon with red and black smoke trailing after him, as he followed him through the golden streets of the ancient city. He looked at the city with a mix of both an undying fascination of the past, like a reunion with something long searched for, and a deep rooted gut ripping wrath, like an unpleasant discovery of something, one had hoped forever lost. How tedious indeed.
Mairon ran swiftly, although clumsy, with his ropes flying behind him. Many had to step aside in order not be knocked over by the rushing Maia. And it seemed as though this scenario was nothing new to the inhabitants of the city. They knew of Mairon’s forgetfulness once he submerged himself into his own mind. Often did he run through the city in order to get to his appointments in time, and he was never late. As Mairon turned a corner he stood before the great steps that led up to the great forges of his master Aule. He smiled with great determination and hope in his golden eyes. Sauron on the other hand grimaced.

“I suddenly have a great need to murder someone” — he said, and grieved the fact that he could not do so. How relaxing it would be though.

Mairon ascended the stairs in a more calmer pace now. He didn’t want to be out of breath when he stood before his master. Another maia descended the stairs in the same moment. Sauron couldn’t help himself and snorted — “Ha! If it isn’t Saruman the fool!”

“Goodmorning, Mairon!” — he greeted.

“Ah, Curumo!” — Mairon said, while trying to appear as if he had not just run through half the city. By the looks on Curumo’s face, it was evident that he did not succeed.

“Just in time I see! I have just finished my counsel, so he is waiting for you”

“How wonderful! I feel that this time, I will surely succeed, my friend!” — Mairon did not see, or did not want to see, the doubting smile Curumo gave him.

“Oh! By the way, Curumo, I have this for you” - he reached into his bag and handed him an intricate drawing with instructions for a design of a mechanical device — “I want you to have a look at this. Make it and present it to me by this time next week”

“Next week?! Mairon, I… I need more time! This is really a complicated piece of machinery! I know you are my mentor but, please, I beg you, I cannot yet do the same level of work as you!”

“I know that. But I would still like to see how well you’ll do in your attempt” — Mairon pointed at the paper Curumo held in his hand, sent him a teasing smile and with a firm voice said — “By next week. Have it done. Good luck!”

He continued to ascend the stairs and left a crumbling Curumo, who was trying to figure out how on earth he was going to survive this new assignment. Sauron looked back at him and rejoiced at the knowledge he had of his former pupil’s fate. Always had he sought and desired the knowledge, skill and power of Mairon, and never had he succeeded. All of his many efforts eventually only lead him to his own humiliating demise. An evil smile spread across Sauron’s dry cracked lips.
At the top of the stairs Mairon was yet again greeted by a face from the past. This time a future enemy. From the skies he called out to him.

“Good morning, my friend! I have been looking for you”

Eonwe flew in and landed in front of him. His wings flapped and created a strong wind. A few papers flew out of Mairon’s bag and notebook, but he quickly collected them with great fear of losing his precious ideas. He gave Eonwe a stern look.

“My bad… Sorry.”

His wings disappeared into light and white smoke, and now he stood before Mairon, wingless, tall he towered over Mairon with kind eyes, magnificent as always. A proper herald of Manwe. Sauron could not help but roll his eyes. He remembered how much he respected Eonwe and held him in great esteem. Oh, how proud he was to have called him a dear friend! Sauron turned and stuck his tongue out, making noises as if he was sick.

“Always great at arrivals” — Mairon still looked mildly annoyed at Eonwe’s sudden appearance, but he soon gave him a friendly smile and gave his shoulder a knock with his fist — “You were looking for me? Make it quick. I’m in a hurry” — Mairon started to walk towards his destination as a signal to Eonwe of his haste. Eonwe followed close by.

“My Lord Manwe asks if the jewellery he ordered for our Lady Varda can be done before the next festival? He knows that it is soon but if possi—“ — Mairon cut him off in his sentence.

“Sure! Tell him that he can expect them by tomorrow”

Eonwe shone with delight — “He’ll be happy to hear that! I’m sure he will reward you for your hard work!”

Mairon simply smiled and waved a hasty farewell to Eonwe in reply — “I have to go and see lord Aule now. Do deliver a greeting to your master from me!”

“Lord Aule? Mairon, are you going to..?”

“It will be different this time. He will listen. I know it”

Eonwe smiled kindly and returned the gesture of a farewell, his wings returned and he flew away with another blast of wind. Mairon held tight to all of his papers as the wind came at him. From above he could hear a distant apology.

“Bird brain…” — Mairon said to himself.

Sauron snickered. A nickname that had begun as a friendly tease, but he had continued to use it even after he joined Melkor. He had enjoyed the look on Eonwe’s face when they met again, after his betrayal. Even more so when he called him by his nickname. Something broke in Eonwe that day. How happy Sauron was that he was the cause of it.
Mairon corrected his clothes and hair, cleared his throat and then firmly knocked on the great doors that belonged to Aule’s workshop. A voice, deep as if it came from the center of the earth, warm as a calm fire, smooth as grass swaying in the wind, awe inspiring as the hidden forces of nature, called him inside. The mere surprise of the impact of that voice, nearly made Sauron’s knees bend beneath him, but he refused to be shaken so easily. Who knows who was watching him after all. Mairon lifted his chest. Held his head high. Took a deep breath and with passion burning in his eyes, opened the doors, and entered.

Maps, notes, detailed drawings, research documents and so on, all lay spread out in display in front of Aule. He looked at them with an expression that was hard to read. Sauron flowed about the great workplace of Aule. He remembered this day. Of what he was talking to Aule about, so he had no interest in hearing their conversation. Instead he took a look around his old master’s surroundings.
How long had it not been since he last stood here and marvelled at the genius of one of the great Valar. A strong flame burned in the back of the room. Tools on the wall glistened and glowed in it’s flames. Maps and charts of early Arda decorated the walls and ceiling. On his workbench Sauron could see what he was working on currently. Nothing of importance he noted. Another gift for Yavanna. Something on a shelf caught his eye. In his smokey form he graciously flowed towards it. His black long fingers grabbed it and held it up, so the light from the fire could reveal what it was. His eyes opened in fascination.

“My, my!” — he exclaimed then gave a little laugh — “How surprising is this?”

In his hands he held an earring. A green gem shaped like a drop held by strings of gold in a symmetric pattern. Rough in it’s design and with many flaws in execution, but there was no doubt: this was Mairon’s first creation. His very first work. He looked over at Aule, silhouetted in shadow by the fire behind him.

“You kept this? Why, Aule, I never thought you were that sentimental.”

He looked at it some more. The red flames captured in the gem was mesmerising. He was so proud that day. He thought for a while. Then he pierced his ear with it and wore it. It was a poor piece of jewellery, but it was a privilege he had long been absent of. This would have to do. For now. He looked back at where he found the earring and saw that it was back in it’s place. He quickly felt his ear and discovered that it was still there… or what at least seemed to be it. It was a strange place indeed. How could he trust anything here to be true. Perhaps the Valar had only placed the earring there to mess with him. Perhaps Aule never truly kept it.

“Does it matter?”

The faceless voice from earlier tickled his ears and made it run down his spine like ice. He turned around on instinct but he knew he would find no one there.

“Who are you?!” — he spat through his teeth. Jaws tightly shut.

The voice laughed, than disappeared. In anger Sauron knocked down the shelf he stood by and saw everything on it shatter on the floor. But as quickly as he had knocked it down, just as quickly was it back again on the wall as if he had never touched it. Aule and Mairon talked still. Nothing had disturbed them. Sauron was a mere ghost. A ghost of the future to come.
Aule sat down with a deep sigh. Mairon leaned forward waiting for an answer. Aule had always been hard to read. His mind a secret to all but to the rare few he chose to share it with. He seemed to be deep in thought, looking at Mairon’s plans spread out before him. The silence was suffocating Mairon.

“Master, ever since Ormal and Illuin first brought light to Arda, we have rested on Almaren, and only seldomly travelled to other lands. In the past 1400 years progress has decreased immensely! There’s still so much to be done in the world! The potential of the other lands are immense and we—“

“That’s enough, Mairon” — Aule held a hand up to stop Mairon’s speech — “I heard you the first time. I heard you the second time. I even heard you the 200th time”

He gave him that look that Mairon hated the most. He was going to reject his plans. Again. Aule also spoke to him in that tone of voice; soft, but firm. It was patronizing. Mairon fell back on his stool in defeat. He was so sure that this time… that this time he would…
Aule continued.

“Mairon, we are tired. The Valar and I are tired. We want to rest. The world doesn’t go anywhere. We will start to further our work on Arda once we have regained our strength. Creating is exhausting, you know this. And Fighting Melkor did not help at all! He really enjoyed destroying our work time after time… Thank Eru that Tulkas joined us when he did. Melkor has left us alone for this long now and kept to himself, but now Manwe has called for him!”

Mairon looked up in surprise.

“Lord Melkor!? He has called for Lord Melkor? Why?”

Mairon did not see the logic in this. The main cause for the Valar’s troubles and the biggest threat to the progress of building the world, has been called to Almaren? Aule was clearly greatly annoyed by this. He had been awfully moody of late. This was the reason.

“Yes! He still hopes that his brother will help us in perfecting the world. To share in our labour and join us. Melkor has great gifts and powers, no doubt! But his mind is of a different way than ours. He is black of heart. He does not create! He destroys! He respects not the work of others and he has a desire to be the ruler of all. I fear that him coming here, will be the end of our long peace. But Manwe thinks that his brother may have changed. He has been quite for a while now. But I do not trust him.”

Mairon remembered the time before they descended into the world. The great song. How Melkor had disrupted the music of the Ainur. When he came into the world and sat it ablaze. How he desired to be the ruler of the world. Mairon too had fought against him and seen the work of his masters destroyed. He felt nothing but awe for his powers and might, and disgust for his vile being. And now, he has been called to Almaren by Lord Manwe himself. What would not be at stake?

“He wants him to be present at the council. He wants him to be part of their decisions. He hopes that showing trust and engaging him might be the best choice of action.”

“The council?! Master, please, let me speak before the Valar at the council!” — Mairon blurted out.

He didn’t mean to beg before his master, but he was near desperation. Aule looked at him with disbelief over his audacity. Mairon knew he could not take his words back, so he had to take the chance. He continued before his master could say anything.

“I- I mean, let me tell about my plans as I have with you. Let them hear them and let them decide. So far it has only been you, and I do not doubt your counsel, master, but perhaps they will see it differently and they might— “

Aule stood up from his chair and towered over Mairon. His face stern.

“Mairon, I have heard what you had to say. I do not doubt the potential of your plans, but the time isn’t right. Let us rest and rejoice in our creations, and not exhaust ourselves with more projects. When the time comes, I will let you present your plans for the Valar. But you will not, and I repeat, you will not go before them unless I give you MY approval to do so! Do I make myself clear?”

Mairon stayed calm before his master, but he was shaken to the core of his being. Never before had Aule talked so harshly to him. Him! Mairon! His most formidable maia. He said nothing to his master, but with his silence he had made it clear to him, that he understood perfectly. He quickly gathered his documents from the table. All of the hours he had spent working on them. He couldn’t bare to think that his hard work would go so unappreciated, unnoticed, unrewarded. Before, he had not wanted such shallow things as “rewards”. He had found comfort in the quality of his work, and the joy which it had brought his masters and his fellow maiar. But for 1400 years he had ever increasingly felt as though his abilities were wasted on minor projects, such a teaching, unimportant research, jewellery making and repairs… Where was the bigger picture? What was the goal of it all? To rest and rejoice? What was the groundbreaking step in that? The wonder? Progress? But the time isn’t right! If not now, if not for the past 1400 years, then when?
He left.

“Well… that was somewhat painfull to watch again.” — Sauron didn’t even know why he talked to himself. Mairon could not hear him.

They were back where they started. At Mairon’s favourite spot. He needed to be alone. He had begun this day with such hope and excitement. He looked over the vast horizon with Illuin and Ormal on each side. Their lights mingled. It cloaked the land and city in an embrace of beauty. The air was warm. The birds still sang their songs to each other. The breeze was soft. Everything was perfect. And Mairon could not enjoy any of it.

“What is my purpose?” - He asked himself.

No one knew of this place than him. He had made a bench just for him. He had laid down the tiles on the ground. He had made a birdhouse. This was his place. Just for him. Sauron thought of all this as he looked around. He knew it all so well. He also knew that soon this spot of his would no longer just belong to him.

“What is your purpose indeed. A good question, but rarely is it asked by a maia. After all, your purpose is to serve your masters”

Mairon turned around in a fright. He had thought himself alone. But there in the shadow of one of the trees, cloaked in black, stood a figure tall and terrible. He stepped forwards and the mixed lights of the lamps caressed his dark skin.

“Well, well! If it isn’t the king of the world himself! — Sauron went straight up to his face. His eyes wide in utmost fascination — “The last time I saw you, you were crippled and scarred! Dragged away by our enemies. But here you are all fair and majestic.”

He backed away again to get a better look of his master. Eyes fierce and red. Hair so black it shone with a pale blue, like lightning. All of his being screamed of power and might. His movements seemed well calculated, but effortlessly elegant and eternally mesmerising.

“You certainly were impressive.” - Sauron said with a crooked smile.

He looked over at Mairon. His face gave him away. The surprise of not being alone made him unable to hide his thoughts. A combination of utter disgust, disbelief, shock and yet, admiration. Melkor could also tell the defeat from earlier on him. He walked towards him and stopped to look over the city. He sighed a sigh of adoration.

“Beautiful, is it not?”

Mairon did not answer. He was still starring with his mouth wide open. Only when Melkor turned to look at him did he collect himself. His eyes was kind and soft, but something in them still made his blood freeze.

“My Lord Melkor..! I.. did not know that you.. I—“

Melkor caught him off in his rambling, but in such a way that it seemed it was done so out of consideration.

“I’ve just arrived. I looked around and found this wonderful little place here. I did not mean to intrude and startle you. I was just about to leave when i heard you, and forgive me, but you seem distressed?”

Mairon frowned. This was not the Melkor he remembered. The war loving, all destroying monster he and his masters had fought so long and hard with. Perhaps Manwe was right. His brother could have changed? Sauron laughed to himself. He knew all to well what Melkor was playing at here. How trustworthy he seemed in a moment of weakness. When Mairon was caught off guard, just deserted by his master, alone in a spot no one knew off. Melkor had chosen the right time to plant his seed.
Mairon wanted to tell him to leave him, but he could not be so rude to one of the Valar. He was beneath him still.

“I am. But it is nothing for you to be bothered with, my Lord”

He wanted him to leave. Melkor had such eyes that seemed as though they saw right through him. He felt naked under his gaze. Melkor said nothing for a while.

“I know that serving the Valar can be challenging at times, Mairon” — Mairon flinched — “They rule all. They decide the way of the world. What to do, and.. what not to do”

Mairon looked up at him — “How do you.. “ — he stopped himself. He rose from his seat, gathered his stuff, turned to face Melkor in order to bid him a proper farewell. But he was surprised, yet again, when he saw that Melkor had moved silently to be right next to him. He looked up into those fiery all seeing eyes.

“To serve under such conditions are not easy. No one can blame anyone for feeling unfulfilled at times. But trust me on this, Mairon, a gifted maia such as you, is always greatly treasured. Be patient. They’ll understand in time”

His voice was like a spell. It pierced through Mairon’s skin and went deep into his blood. He felt it’s icy burn in his veins. It frightened him. He stepped back, bowed in the right manner, turned around and quickly went his way. He could feel those red eyes on his back as he walked away. He stopped. He was about to turn his head to look back, but he stopped himself, straightened his back and continued to walk away.
Sauron looked at Mairon disappearing in the distance. He looked at Melkor. His gaze was fixed on the city below them.

“Beautiful, is it not?” — he mimicked Melkor’s voice — “How elegantly of you! You hated that city. You hated those lamps. The Valar. But, oh, you said just the right things in order to get me interested, did you not? I always wondered how you could have known so much about me back then, but I must give it to you, I was an open book! I could have easily done the same. I gave you everything! It was too easy, wasn’t it?”

Melkor turned to walk away. But Sauron was having too much fun. Never had he been so blunt to his face, never had he dared. He had always been honest with his master, more honest than he had ever been able to be with anyone. And his master had expected him to be so. But now, in this place, where he was merely a ghost, there were no consequences. He followed him and continued his flow of mockery. Sauron almost got drunk on this euphoria of freedom.

“— by the way, master, how is the void? Boring I suppose. Is this the void? It w—”

He snapped out of his sentence, cause it appeared to him that Melkor looked him straight in the eyes. Those piercing red eyes. The wrath and ruin that laid hidden in them. His knees trembled. That gaze. He had never forgotten it. He starred into those eyes. Then, Melkor smiled. He closed his eyes and released Sauron from it’s grasp. He laughed to himself, gave Sauron one last look and walked away. He disappeared into shadows.
Sauron was stunned. He could have sworn he looked right at him. But how could that be possible. Where was he? Why was he here?

“Wouldn’t you like to know” - The voice mocked.

Chapter Text

It was raining. Mairon’s tea stood untouched by the window. Many unemptied cups stood around his room. He enjoyed tea, but seldom did he manage to get the first sip before it had already turned cold. He lost himself in his work every time and forgot it. That’s usually how it was. This time, however, his mind was occupied by work, but also by red fiery eyes and smooth words. Aule’s words too ran on repeat inside his head. One moment he was sad, the next he was angry and in the next moment he felt guilt. He couldn’t decide if he was wrong or if it was his master… what a thought! A Maia doubting his master. Once he caught himself thinking that he stopped his work. He stood up, walked over to the window, got reminded of his tea, took a sip and grimaced.

“Cold… “

He looked out on the rain falling off the leaves. Its sound filled his workroom which he had at home. Sometimes working with the others in the forges got too distracting. He needed solitude to work completely satisfactory. Curumo always asked him so many questions as well as the others. The burden of the gifted is to guide the less fortunate. He only truly enjoyed working in the forges on bigger projects or when Aule collaborated with him. It was a collaboration now. It had been long since Aule had taught him anything new. He sighed.
Sauron burst out into a growl of absolute annoyance.

“This iS SO BORING! Is this to be the rest of my existence?!”

Sauron was flowing around the room clawing at the ceiling. All morning Mairon had just sat in here and worked on the jewellery for Varda. And now it was noon. Sauron looked at Mairon in desperation. He took a sip of his tea and concluded that he should make another one.

“OH, FOR GOODNESS SAKE!!”

Sauron could not take anymore. He completely rampaged the room from one end to the other. Books, papers, tools, gems, cups, everything went flying in all directions. He tore down the shelves from its hinges, knocked over tables, broke the chairs, and at last set fire to the room. He stood in the flames and with great joy looked at Mairon’s broken and burning belongings. He breathed in the smoke and enjoyed its rough burning sensation in his lungs. He closed his eyes. The heat engulfed him and he smiled.
He heard a chair being pulled over the floor and someone sitting down. Mairon had returned with a new cup of tea. He put it by the window and continued his work.
The room was intact.
At least Sauron had gotten somewhat of a relief out of it. But how bored he was! He cursed the Valar for putting him in this place. Here his spirit would surely wither away, and his only distraction would be his past self. His punishment was boredom… How cruel…
He sighed, and went over to look at the work Mairon was doing. Manwe had commissioned a circlet of silver with gold and silver strings hanging from it, pearls and white gems attached to mimic stars against Varda’s dark hair. The Circlet had to be perfect. Not for the receiver, but for it’s creator. Mairon was almost done attaching the last gems. He held it up to examine it. The rain had stopped and silver light broke through the clouds. The light found it’s way through Mairon’s window, touched graciously the circlet and made the gems, pearls, silver and gold shine and reflect the light in an infinite display of star light. The rays of light danced around the room’s walls and ceiling. Mairon’s face was also kissed by the generous reflection of light.

“Perfect…” — He smiled with great satisfaction.

“Yeah, it’s nice, now go and destroy that bird brain of a maia and save yourself a lot of trouble in the future!”

Sauron had found himself talking more and more often to Mairon. He needed some kind of stimulation. He knew that this was indeed not the past, but merely an illusion of it. So far what he has seen has matched up with his own memories. So until now, the Valar had not tried to manipulate him. Make him doubt his mind and memories. So even though Mairon wasn’t the real Mairon, and nothing Sauron did could change anything, he still found it interesting, and somewhat amusing to watch his past, with the knowledge that he had of coming events. But not when all Mairon did was sitting around, working on unimportant projects and being depressed all of the time! — “How sensitive I used to be” — he thought to himself.

The clock rang. It was noon exactly. Mairon carefully prepared the circlet for delivery. Usually he gave it to one of his pupils to deliver a commission, but today, he thought, he would deliver it himself. The walk might clear his head of fiery eyes and angry masters.

Mairon’s home was just outside of the city, but close to the main road that led directly to the forges. His way there was quicker than from Curumo’s home, even though Curumo lived in the city. Mairon stood for a while to let his skin drink the light, his lungs enjoy the air, and Sauron was just about to reach out and strangle him. But then he began his journey towards the home of Eonwe, much to the relief of Sauron.

“At long last..!” — he sighed and rolled his eyes — “it was about time you decided to move your sorry ass.”

Mairon could not shake off his meeting with Melkor last night. He kept on hearing what he said over and over again.Those words ran down Mairon’s spine and made his hair stand on end. That voice was haunting! Had he been so easy to read? How else could he have known so much? But what also had surprised him was how different Melkor had seemed. The last time he saw him, before Tulkas came to aid them, Melkor was a frightening sight to hold. A pure force of destruction and ruin! But yesterday… he was… kind? Considerate? And yet still immensely frightening… How could he be all of that at the same time?
Mairon stopped walking.
Melkor understood his struggle — “To serve under such conditions are not easy. No one can blame anyone for feeling unfulfilled at times” — he had said to me. He understood. Maybe he—

“Welcome, my friend. You did say to expect it delivered by tomorrow, but so soon! And you bring it yourself! What a pleasant surprise indeed” — Eonwe sat up on the great wall that surrounded the home of Lord Manwe and Lady Varda. He always appeared in places one didn’t expect. He smiled at Mairon and jumped down. Mairon was thankful to have been interrupted in his thoughts. Sauron leaned in to whisper in his ear:

“Now is your chance! You’ll thank me later”

The thought of Eonwe in a bloody pool had always been extremely enjoyable to him. He was sorry he never got to experience that pleasure.

“Let us go inside. Would you like some tea? I’ll remind you to drink it while it’s hot” — Eonwe teased lovingly.

They walked through the gate adorned with carved images of birds and stars, decorated with precious metals and gems. One of Mairon’s greatest works, but now he couldn’t help but notice all of the flaws in it.

They sat in the courtyard surrounded by the most beautiful plants of the ancient world. Many of Yavanna’s creations was lost after Melkor destroyed Almaren. Sauron came to think that that was to happen very soon. He smiled to himself. That glorious day. The lamps destroyed. A sea of flames. Chaos and utter destruction. What a perfect day that was. One of their biggest victories. He looked at Mairon.

“And to think that you are to play a part in all of that… No one suspected a thing! And can you blame them? Just look at you!” — He tucked at Mairon’s hair and gestured to his clothing. He reacted to none of it. He calmly continued his conversation with Eonwe — “you are a slave! You would do any of their commands! A puppet for their use. A greater purpose awaits you, and you will thrive! Just you wait! You will abandon them all, and they’ll beg for your return, but they’re fools” — he whispered right into Mairon’s ear and poured out his malice — “Fools. Just like you are. But that will change soon. Have no fear”

He walked over to the other side of the table, to where Eonwe sat. He looked at him for a long time. A servant came in with tea and something to eat. On the plate lay a knife. The light that shone from it caught his eyes, and they were fixed on the sharp blade. His black hand grabbed the knife swiftly and drove it into Eonwe’s right temple. He fell from his chair with blood spouting out of his head. He landed on the tiles heavily, like a piece of meat. Sauron’s face remained completely calm. He crouched over him and pulled the knife from his head. He took in all of the beauty of the blood covered body beneath. And then he began to hack. With each blow Sauron’s calm face changed bit by bit until he was laughing hysterically. Blood sprayed everywhere: onto him, onto the floor, onto the table, onto Mairon.
When at last Sauron was done, he starred down at what was once the beautiful Herald of Manwe. Out of breath, a rush of euphoria rolled over him and made him twitch. He looked up at Mairon with a drunken smile.

“There!” — he said, and spread out his arms to display his deed.

He stood up and threw the bloody knife on the table. The blade was broken from hitting the tiles. Sauron wiped his face with his hand, but since that too was covered in blood, he only succeeded in smearing himself even more in it. He licked his lips. The taste was heavenly.

“I heard what happened yesterday… Your meeting with Lord Aule—“

Mairon pushed the package across the table — “Here is your Lord’s commission" — He had no desire to talk about his meeting with anyone — “I hope he will find it to his liking” — He took a sip of his tea. It was still too hot. Eonwe understood Mairon’s signal. He opened the box and marvelled at the beautiful circlet inside.

“As always: flawless. I have no doubt that Lady Varda quickly will have this be her favourite ornament”

“She already has”

Both Mairon and Eonwe stood up from their seats and bowed respectfully — “My lady!” — they said together with great bashfulness. They had not noticed her in the yard with them. Sauron watched how she towered over the cowering maiar and was disgusted. She laughed kindly, clearly amused to have surprised them. Her voice soothed their embarrassment — “Do raise your heads! there’s no need for such formality in my own garden. It is me who is at fault for startling you so”

“My lady!” — Eonwe exclaimed — “This is a gift from your husband! He wished to present it to you at the festival as a surprise! He will be very disappointed to hear that you have already seen it!”

He was so upset to have failed his lord in such a way. Mairon felt pity for him, but couldn’t help but smile. Varda went over and gently gestured the two maiar to lift their heads and face her. In her eyes shone a million stars. Her gaze graced their’s.

“My dearest Eonwe, my husband won’t know if no one tells him. He is rather distracted at the moment, and will be for awhile” — Eonwe gave an uncertain smile of relief. She then looked at Mairon— “You see, we have a guest” — she did not say it, but it was evident that the guest she spoke of, was unwanted. She went over to the table, sat down and gestured to them to join her. She invited them to sit with her. What an honour.

“He arrived late yesterday” — she continued to explain to Mairon. Eonwe of course already knew — “I am certain you know of whom I speak. Manwe hopes to reconcile with his brother. I have no great hopes for Melkor’s change of heart, but my husband has always had a soft spot for him, be he brother or not. He always sees the good in people, even if there is none. But I do support my husband in all of his choices, as he supports me in mine. I have bid Melkor welcome into my home, and I will be him a good host. He did surprise me however, I will grant him that. Few has surprised me before. He seemed changed. Like the years in exile have softened him”

Varda stopped when she looked at Mairon. He listened so intensely to her words of Melkor that his face startled her. He quickly looked away once he realised how he must have looked. An awkward silence fell over them, but it was lifted when she took a closer look at the circlet.

“Mairon, this is lovely. I would very much like to try it on. Will you help me. I need the hands of an artist” — She handed it to him, and he took it with a little hesitation. He placed it on her head and adjusted the strings of gold and silver. It framed her face graciously, and the pearls and gems did truly look like stars against her hair. She turned to Eonwe.

“How do I look?”

“Mairon has accomplished the impossible. He has added to your beauty, my lady” — he answered. She replied with the sweetest of smiles. She then looked at Mairon and took his hands in hers.

“May your gifted hands continue to make such beauty, and bless Arda with your creations. How lucky we are that you descended into the world with us”

Mairon did not know what to answer. Her words were sweet praise, but to his ears they sounded hollow. Beauty? Was he only to create beauty? Had he no bigger role to play than that? Sauron saw Mairon’s thoughts, and was fascinated. It is always the smallest of moments, those that people think nothing of, that set the conditions for bigger events. Mairon was beginning to doubt, and doubt kills the devoted.
She smiled when she received no reply. She rose from her seat and removed the circlet to put it back in the box. She took one last look at it before she closed the lid and handed it over to Eonwe, with instructions of her not wanting to see it before the festival, accompanied by a friendly smile. As she left them, Eonwe looked at her and said:

“How blessed we are to have such gracious, and kind masters”

“Yes, indeed” — Mairon answered as he took a sip of his tea. He made a sound of disappointment. It had gone cold.

Back at the forges Mairon tried to focus on his work, but too much had happened for him to do so. She said he had changed. Maybe it wasn’t so impossible after all? Perhaps, Melkor had changed. That he truly wished to join the Valar and further develop the world to perfection. With his powers at their disposal, there would be no boundaries for them to achieve. Mairon started to think of the wonders they could do. He hastily found his notebook and started to scribble everything down. He drew rough sketches and he even went as far as to dream of the impossible; to finally succeed at creating machinery that they hadn't been able to make before! He almost lost himself in his note taking, if it wasn’t for the memory of a harsh voice — “… The time isn’t right… We are tired… “ — Mairon dropped the pen and fell back into his chair in despair. What would any of his ideas matter if they would never be approved? Never brought to life? Even if Melkor joined them, what difference would it make if the Valar continued to rest?
He put his head in his hands. He would still be crafting useless objects, with no other purpose than beauty.

“Master Aule wants to see you” — one of the other maiar of Aule laid a hand on Mairon’s shoulders as he gave him the message. Mairon threw his hand back and gave the messenger a fright. Mairon’s face was frightening. His eyes full of frustration and anger. With bared teeth he hissed. The man backed away. He had never seen Mairon like this before. Mairon blinked.

“Oh… Oh, I am sorry! I didn’t mean to do that. You startled me” — He tried to reassure his fellow maia, but he only gave him uneasy looks. He pointed in the direction of Aule’s workshop and repeated his message — “Our master wishes to see you” — Mairon thanked him and with great embarrassment walked away. Sauron followed him.

“Now you are getting more interesting, my friend” — he enjoyed watching this more than he had expected to.

Mairon felt as though he was looking at a mountain. Aule’s back was so strong and wide, and it was tense. Silhouetted by the fire of the furnace, it’s shadow became a void. The silence was strained. Finally Aule turned to face him.

“Mairon… Yesterday did not go well”

“Master, I—“

“Let me finish. I talked long with Yavanna last night. She made me realise that perhaps I should give you a chance, and let you speak at the council”

Mairon’s heart stopped for a second, and he forgot to breath. Everything halted. Aule continued.

“You presenting your ideas could do no harm. I doubt that they will decide to take further action on any of them, I am sorry to say, but perhaps it will bring you more peace of mind, to have their say on the matter.”

“And perhaps YOU hope to get some peace and quiet, once he is silenced!” — Sauron glared at Aule. His fists tightened. He remembered that council meeting all too well.

“Master! I cannot express the level of my gratitude!”

Aule lifted his hand. He didn’t need to hear words of thanks — “You can go now, Mairon. You need to prepare yourself. Get your charts and plans. The councill is tonight”

Mairon was almost out of the door before he remembered to bid his master a proper farewell. When he had left Aule scratched his neck with a concerned look on his face. Sauron stared directly into his eyes.

“Be concerned all you want, you bastard. This is on you”

When the Council was about to start Melkor entered. All conversations stopped. Tulkas clenched his fists, Varda wore a face worthy of a queen, Yavanna had laid a hand on Aule to calm him, but Melkor himself smiled and greeted them as friends. He walked over to each and everyone of them and greeted them in a proper manner. Many of them gave surprised looks to each other over Melkor’s change of nature. Manwe came through the room and welcomed him with an embrace which Melkor accepted wholeheartedly.

“I am so happy to have you here, dearest brother!”

“So am I! Thank you for letting me be part of this. I would not have been surprised if you had denied me this honour” — he turned to face his fellow Valar — “I hope that we can put the past aside and focus on the future. Together we can bring the vision of Eru Illuvatar to life!”

Manwe smiled proudly but the other Valar did not look as sure of his words. Manwe laid a hand on his brother’s back and guided him towards their seat. Melkor caught a glimpse of a small figure in the back of the room. Mairon stood with his many documents, anticipating his chance to speak. Melkor gave him a friendly nod as acknowledgement. Mairon wanted to look away, but Melkor’s mysterious change still puzzled him.
They all took their seats, and Namo begun the counsel by announcing the first subject to be discussed: Yavanna wished to discuss an alternative source of fuel for her husband’s forges. Mairon often wondered why they had married each other.
Much of the council Mairon could not take part in, for the Valar were very fond of their telepathic link. To speak with words was not a necessity when they were amongst each other. So Mairon sat patiently and waited for his turn. After a few hours, Namo turned and looked at him. His chance had arrived.
He walked into the centre and begun his long awaited presentation at last.

Mairon could feel all of their eyes on him. They had heard his presentation. They had seen his documents. All the while he had not been able to read any of their faces. He had no idea of what they were thinking. Aule sat to the right of Manwe and Varda, and at their left sat Melkor. He too, had been impossible to read.
A silence fell over the council. Did they talk among themselves again? Did they wait for him to say something?

For the first time since he arrived here, Sauron now felt truly uncomfortable. He had thought that since this was so long ago, it would not matter much to him. But he had been wrong. Watching this all over again… it was painful. He didn’t want to witness what was about to happen. He turned to leave.

“Stay”

The faceless voice had returned. Sauron had thought it gone. How foolish of him.

“No!” — he answered in spite — “I will not endure this all over again! Once is far more than enough!”

“You will stay, and you will watch!”

“I will not!”

Sauron tried to escape, but found that he could not get out anywhere. He was held back by a force unknown, unseen, and all powerful. The voice repeated in his head to stay. Much to his despair, Sauron found himself completely defenseless against his jailor. He had no choice but to stay and watch Mairon’s complete humiliation unfold.

After some time of silence, Namo rose from his seat.

“Thank you, Mairon, you can leave now”

Mairon did not move. The Valar looked at him, waiting for him to go. Varda frowned with concern. Namo, clearly annoyed, repeated himself.

“I… I would like to hear your decision now, my lord” — Mairon said with careful determination. His request filled the room with a thick tension. Aule moved uneasy in his seat but Yavanna laid a patient hand on his arm. Melkor leaned back into his seat and suddenly looked very thoughtful. Namo’s piercing silver eyes chilled Mairon to his core, but he refused to back down. He did not want to leave without hearing their thoughts on his plans. He had waited too long now to just be dismissed.

“Maia of Aule. We have granted you permission to speak before us at the council, we have heard you speak, we have discussed your plans amongst ourselves, and you will hear our verdict when we have come to a final conclusion. Now you will leave this council, and await our answer with patience!”

Mairon swallowed. He had now succeeded in angering two of the Valar in no less than two days. And still, he could not bring himself to leave.

“With all due respect, my Lord, I do not have the patience in me to wait”

“MAIRON!” — The thundering voice of his master shook the room. Aule jumped from his seat, eyes burning like a furnace — “You will remember your place, and you will do as commanded! Is this how you thank your masters?! You shame me!”

Aule would have continued, if it wasn’t for Manwe. He stood up with a raised hand and a stern look — “Sit down, Aule” — Manwe’s gaze found Mairon. How small he looked surrounded by them all, but he refused to show his nervousness. He awaited his words. Manwe’s face remained calm, but there was no kindness to be found.

“You are bold. You request an answer from us immediately, and refuse to leave. To speak before the council is an honour few have been given, and yet, you come before us, not with humility, but with demands and insolence. This cause must be very dear to your heart, for you to be so reckless” — he said with a calm and controlled voice. A true king.

“It is, my king” — Mairon bowed his gaze in respect. He felt a drop of sweat run down his back.

“Here it comes” — Sauron whispered. Jaws tightly clenched. Stomach twisting.

“I understand your impatience, but I cannot tolerate your behaviour” — He turned to his fellow Valar — “The council will disregard the presentation of Mairon. His plans will not be discussed further tonight, tomorrow, nor ever”

Aule looked at Mairon with both pity and disappointment.

“Your behaviour cannot go without consequences. This time, your plans have been denied. The next time you are granted permission to speak, remember this”

Manwe gestured that Mairon could leave. He sat back down and looked at the unusual maia among them. Mairon’s face remained unchanged. He showed no signs of a reaction to Manwe’s words. He bowed before his masters. He left his documents behind.

 

It was night when Mairon left the council. Nighttime on Almaren was not like the nights during the age of the trees, or the age of the sun and moon. It never truly got dark. What the people of old called night, was merely the time of day when the lights of the lamps were the softest and weakest. Varda’s stars were most visible at this time, but you could also faintly see them during the day. The purple sky guided him home.
His mind empty. His soul empty.
Sauron remembered it all. How everything had just stopped that day.

Mairon closed the door behind him with a heaviness. He walked into his workroom and sat down in his chair by the window. His whole body completely gave after to the heaviness of his mind. He sank low into the chair, and it appeared to him, that he had no strength left to ever get up again.
But fate would have it otherwise.
It knocked on the door. At first Mairon ignored it, but the knocking continued.

“Trust me, you want to open that door. You wont regret it” — Sauron said as encouragement to a deaf audience. He heard the faceless voice laugh as he had said it. There was something sinister in that voice. Sauron chose to ignore it this time. He did not want to be bothered by it anymore. He kept reminding himself to think of the moment when he will get his revenge on the owner of it, and it calmed him. Once he figured out his prison, he would soon figure out his jailor.
The knocking continued in a repetitive rhythm, determined to be acknowledged at some point. At last Mairon got up from the chair. Whoever was at the other side of that door, would be sorry in a moment!

“Olorin, if that is you, I suggest that you get the hell out of here!” — The knocking continued. He pushed down the handle — “I am in a VERY bad mood, and your presence will do nothing to improve it!” — he opened the door — “WHAT DO YOU WANT?!”

Red eyes awaited at the other side.

“… You left all of your documents… I thought you might want them back…”

Melkor stood with Mairon’s bag full of his documents in his hands. Mairon’s big eyes went back and forth between Melkor’s face and his bag. He was just about to shut the door in a panic, but Melkor was already coming inside his home. He handed back the documents to Mairon, and took a look around the room. Mairon, still flustered at having yelled Melkor right in the face, slowly followed him with his eyes.

“You… You could have sent a servant to deliver these, my lord… There was no need for you to come all this way… Is the counsel already finished?”

“It finished shortly after you left. And I know I could have tasked someone else to deliver your things, but I have no servants with me, and besides, after that unfortunate incident, I did not expect you to be pleased to see one of your fellow maia friends at the door” — he turned around and gave him a teasing smile — “And from the welcome I got, I can see that I was right to think so”

Mairon’s face went red from embarrassment. He apologised.

“No, no, don’t apologise. It’s completely understandable. I, on the other hand, should be the one to apologise for my brother. He was very unfair to treat you like that in front of us all” — he said with a kind voice, but there was no pity in it. The way he said it, and the way he looked at Mairon, did not make him feel bad about himself.

“My words tonight were unwise and ill chosen… I stepped way out of line…”

“You did not! You wanted an answer and I thought that your request was perfectly reasonable! If you wish to know what we talked about I would be more than happy to tell you! But I do not think that it will lighten your mood”

“I see… I can’t say that I am surprised. The Valar have long been exhausted from creating and building, and they wish to rest. My plans does not fall into their interests, I am afraid. Master Aule told me that. I should have listened to his advice. But I just hoped that perhaps I could change their minds! That somehow I could spark an interest and that we might continue the progress of—“ — Mairon stopped himself mid sentence. Why was he sharing all of this with Melkor!? One of the Valar! One of his masters! He was beneath him. Perhaps it was because he was at home. Perhaps it was because Melkor seemed to understand him. None the less, it wasn’t proper. He should not act this way in front of him.
But Melkor looked at Mairon with curiosity.

“Continue the progress of what?” — he asked intrigued.

“… the progress of … perfecting Arda. To continue our advancement in science. Not be satisfied with what we have when there’s so much more to achieve… I am sorry, my lord, this is—“

“— exactly what I think”

Mairon’s mouth fell open from amazement. Melkor walked slowly towards him. He stood right in front of him and gazed down with those fierce eyes at the amazed maia.

“I could not agree with you more”

A big noise filled the room when Mairon dropped all of his documents on the floor. He quickly got down on the floor to pick them up. While gathering them up in a frantic haste, face all red and eyes wide from disbelief, he stopped once he noticed that Melkor had crouched down to help him. He handed him his notebook. Their eyes met.

“Tell me more of your plans” — he said in a persuasive and smooth voice. Mairon hesitated for a moment, but took his notebook from Melkor’s hand — “Show me everything” — his eyes gleamed with fascination.

“… Follow me!” — Mairon said at last. He showed Melkor into the back of his home, into his workroom. He pointed to the table and chairs and asked for Melkor to take a seat. He did so. His knees almost scrapped the bottom of the table. He was so big in this house built for a maia. Mairon searched eagerly through his shelves and drawers and stack of papers to find what he had not even dared to show to anyone. Melkor looked around Mairon’s workroom with a thoughtful face. The many cups of untouched tea, the chaotic piles of paper, created by an overactive mind, the unnumbered books scattered everywhere, the tools for any possible function imaginable and much, much more.

“… I thought you had a reputation for being very orderly?” — he asked perplexed. Sauron popped his head up from behind a pile of papers.

“What? Oh, yes, I do! At the forges I keep everything in systems and order, and everything has it’s place. To the unfamiliar eye, my home might seem chaotic, but don’t let it fool you! Here I don’t have to worry about anyone else but me. I know exactly where everything is. But that is only possible as long as no one gets in and moves my things around. So don’t touch anything!”

Melkor laughed — “You are very frank with me, aren’t you?”

“I am sorry, my lord, I should have minded my words. Today is not my best”

“No, I like it. No manners or etiquettes. Just two minds sharing ideas”

“That sounds like a good idea. Oh, would you like some tea?”

Mairon was already half way to the kitchen. He didn’t wait for an answer. Sauron sighed deeply — “What ever did you see in me? I mean, how did you imagine THAT to be your lieutenant? Not exactly what one would imagine to be the most trusted servant of Morgoth…”

He did find the sight of his master in a small chair hilarious. He couldn’t help but laugh a little. Mairon returned quickly with two cups of tea. Melkor looked at it with a strange expression. Sauron laughed out loud when his master finally decided to take it and drink. The image was too perfect! The dark lord in a tiny chair, by a tiny table, sipping hot tea! He had to wipe away a tear from laughing so hard.

“You really went far to get my attention, did you not? To lower yourself to this! Oh, it is priceless! It is too good!”

Despite the hilarious circumstances, Sauron fondly remembered that night ages ago. How they had talked all night long. Shared knowledge and ideas. He remembered how thrilling it had been for him. Melkor talked of ideas and possibilities he had never heard from anyone before. He was so inspiring. So intriguing. Fascinating. And he listened with great interest to Mairon’s ideas as well. He gave him his thoughts on his designs, and even improved some, or gave a completely knew perspective. That one night with melkor, had given Mairon more than Aule or anyone had given him for centuries.
Sauron knew now, that after that counsel meeting, he had shut out the Valar from his mind and heart, and welcomed Melkor in to take their place. Sauron knew that. But it would be a while before Mairon fully knew it as well. Before he was ready to devote himself completely to Melkor, and betray his former masters.
No, Mairon was not ready yet, but from this night forward, there was no return. Melkor had already taken him whole.

“Don’t forget your tea” — Melkor said. Mairon had almost forgotten it. He took a cautious sip, expecting the usual disappointment. But much to his surprise and delight, the tea was just right.

In the back of his head, Sauron head the faceless voice yet again.

“The bird. Do you remember the bird?”

Chapter Text

“What are you doing here?”

An extremely grumpy Mairon glared at his unfortunate pupil who stood at the other side of the door. Of all the people he would rather have for a visit, Curumo was not one of them right now. The first time Mairon had been at the forges, after the council, Aule had favoured Curumo. He had chosen him instead of Mairon to lead a new project. Curumo of course had sought Mairon out, and with great effort tried to reassure him that he had nothing to do with Aule’s decision. Mairon had not even granted him a look. He had simply walked away. He had not been back since then, and he had no intention of ever doing so. Not until Aule himself called for him at least.
Now Curumo had turned up at his doorstep, in an attempt to get on his good side again. In his hands he held a box.

“It’s finished! The assignment you gave me…” — he said with a cautious pride.

“That was three weeks ago…” — Mairon said unimpressed.

The disappointed look on Curumo’s face irritated Mairon, but he couldn’t help but feel a little bad for treating him this way. Curumo was not at fault here after all.

“No, please, don’t let him in..! I can’t stand him!” — Sauron begged with no hope of success.

With a deep sigh Mairon stepped aside, inviting Curumo inside. He dared to give Mairon a cautious smile in gratitude. Sauron growled in annoyance.
Curumo had never been inside of Mairon’s home before. It wasn’t very big but Mairon didn’t need it to be. He only needed it to fulfil his needs, so that he could focus on his work. And yet, Curumo looked around in awe. Like he had never seen anything more impressive. It didn’t help Sauron at all, and he wondered if perhaps Curumo should be the next one he “murdered”? But knowing Curumo, he will somehow succeed in making it not very enjoyable, as he did with everything.
They sat down and Curumo eagerly unpacked his machine. He told how difficult it had been for him to complete it. Mairon did not expect much from him, but he was his mentor. Curumo lifted the machine up, put it on the table and removed the cloth covering it. Once revealed, Mairon began to examine it. His face remained as unimpressed and grumpy as before. Curumo waited with great anticipation for his opinion. Mairon lifted it up, it was no bigger than a clock, and examined the bottom. He put it back down and turned it around to look at the back, still with the same expression. Once he was done he looked up at Curumo without lifting his head.

“Did it function well when you turned it on?” — he asked. Curumo, so proud at having completed it, was suddenly struck with the realisation that he indeed had not tried to turn it on. His face told Mairon everything — “let us go to my workroom. I don’t want it to explode in here” — At the word “explode”, Curumo looked pale.

Mairon removed all of the papers that laid on the table. He had used his time away from the forges, to work on his own ideas and research. He had enjoyed it very much actually. Especially after his conversation with Melkor. He was disappointed that he had not been able to meet him after that night. Their time together gave him more inspiration than he had had for ages. He was actually grateful for having so much time on his hands, all though the circumstances could have been better.
Curumo touched something on a shelf out of curiosity. Mairon turned around and sent him a look that could kill. Curumo immediately stopped himself. At Mairon’s command he walked over and put the machine on the table. He backed away to a safe distance. From Mairon. He had an atmosphere around him that warned anyone sensible enough not to cross his path. Curumo had a thoughtful expression. He couldn’t help himself, as he never had been able to, and opened his mouth.

“Mairon, I know that you have not had the easiest of days lately… but, you are different… You isolate yourself, more than you used to at least, and you have become quick to anger. You gave a poor man a fright when all he did was give you a message. Not to mention that you offended all of the Valar at the counc—”

He stopped talking and bit his lip. Sauron rolled his eyes — “Now you are starting to think a little… clever thing to stop yourself, you idiot. You should have done that before coming here though… oh well, you’ll know in a minute” — he said.

Mairon ignored him — “Not all of the Valar…” — He thought to himself. He wanted this over with so that he could get back to work. He checked the machine one last time, and gave a signal to Curumo to back away. He turned the handle and stepped away as well.
The machine started to shake and the vibrations made it move across the surface of the table. it made terrible noises.

“Is it supposed to—“

“No…”

They both backed away some more. Mairon slightly in front of Curumo. He would handle the impact of a blast better. Something from the machine went flying past Mairon’s ear. Curumo and him exchanged panicked looks.
Then the machine stopped.
Silence filled the room. After some tense minutes they looked at each in relief, and laughed awkwardly. Mairon slapped Curumo gently on the back.

“I do think that you missed a detail… or four, when you worked on it! For goodness sake! You could have blown my house to pieces!” — he laughed wholeheartedly. Curumo laughed along, but a bit more strained and nervous. He pointed to the machine — “Explode? What does it do? What is its function, if it so powerful?” — Mairon walked over to the machine to check it further, still merrily smiling.

“No, no, it’s nothing like that. It’s only that if you don’t assemble it correctly, there’s a small chance of it going off. But its function is quite innocent. You see, it’s supposed to—“

Curumo landed on his back with Mairon on top of him. They both gasped for breath, their ears ringing. The blow had knocked the air right out of them. They sat up and tried to gather themselves. Mairon shook his head and held a hand to it. Once he realised what had happened he turned to Curumo.

“Are you all right?”

Curumo was fine, but he had hit his head, and a thin line of blood ran across his face — “I am… fine… But, Mairon! Your home!”

Mairon turned immediately to look at the damage. He went silent. Curumo continued.

“I’ll pay for the repairs! I am so sorry! I… I had no idea that…”

“Get out”

“This was not how it was suppose to be! I came to mend things between us! I’’m such a fool!”

“Get out”

“Mairon, please forgive me! I’ll make everything right again! I—“

Mairon grabbed him by his throat and yanked him off from the floor. Curumo’s feet did not touch the floor for a few seconds as he hung from Mairon’s hand. His golden eyes burned with a fury worthy of the Valar. He put the frightened maia on the floor and pushed him towards the door.

“GET OUT!”

Curumo walked backwards, hands touching the spot on his throat where Mairon had held him. His eyes watery. He quickly got out of door. Sauron relished in the fear Mairon had put on Curumo’s face. He put his arm on Mairon’s shoulder and leaned against him.

“See! It is so much more rewarding to just let your emotions take control. Get it out of the system. Just wait till you kill your first man! Who was it again?… I can’t remember… Oh well, I guess no one of importance then”

Mairon walked into his workroom. The blast was not as bad as he and feared it to be. But it did throw them out of his workroom and slammed into the wall. It blew a small whole in the ceiling, and it did create some flames, but nothing that threatened to burn down his house. He just needed to clean it up a bit. Put things back in their right place. Then he could continue his work. Luckily mairon had put his documents away into the next room. They were safe.
His back ached and his clothes were a bit burned. His hair a mess. He tried to let his hand run through it, but it was too tangled… and wet? His hand was wet with the blood from a small wound. He sat down in a chair he had picked up from the floor. He looked at the red colour. His eyes intense. He hesitantly licked his lips.

“Go on. You want to” — Sauron said with an equal amount of fascination. His mouth curled into a wicked smile when Mairon tasted his own blood. His eyes closed to fully take in the sensation. His mouth twitching at the corners. Then he frowned. He tried to fight the enjoyment he felt.

“You like it. There’s no shame in that, my friend. Don’t hold yourself back from pleasure”

Sauron watched closely as Mairon’s body relaxed. He exhaled slowly, deeply. Peacefully.

The day after the incident Curumo had sent Mairon a letter of apology. A long one. No mention of Mairon’s hand on his throat. He had also sent him money for the repairs.
Eonwe came by to have look, and to check in on his friend. He too mentioned to Mairon that he had changed, and that people had begun to worry. Eonwe’s visit was of a more pleasant nature, and Mairon did very much enjoy his company. But he could not help but notice, how his admiration for Eonwe had faded in the last couple of weeks. His thoughts were not as kind and warm as before. Eonwe’s absolute loyalty towards their masters, his complete trust in their leadership, were somewhat disappointing now. He did not sense the mutual understanding they had had for each other in the past. Something grew between them and separated them.
The way he had sent Curumo on his way had scared Mairon. He didn’t like the way he had reacted. But something about it had just felt so… right…
Perhaps Curumo and Eonwe was right. Maybe he had changed. Perhaps he had been isolated for too long. It might be time to return to the forges.

 

No one said a word, but everyone stared as Mairon entered through the great doors. “Mairon the admirable”: that name had become a mockery more than a praise. He ignored them and went over to his workstation. He caught a glimpse of Curumo among the other maiar, but Curumo had quickly looked away. His stomach twisted.
His workstation had remained untouched for weeks and it was very much visible. Dust and soot laid in a thick layer on everything. First thing to do then: clean. He stretched his body and begun his work, and so did the others.

To the unfamiliar eye it would seem like any other day at the forges. But the atmosphere was tense, and no one behaved like they usually did. Everyone stayed away from Mairon. No one sought his advice and guidance. Be it his fall from grace before the Valar, or the stories of his frightening new behaviour, he knew not. Perhaps it was both. Oddly enough, when people were afraid of him, he noticed a touch of excitement. And when people avoided him it finally gave him the chance to work effectively at the forges… Was he.. actually content? No, that was not the purpose of his return! He wanted to break his isolation. To get things back to normal.

“But things won’t be the same again. They can’t.” — Sauron said — “You can try and behave as you once did, but you HAVE changed, and they don’t like it. You frighten them. Just look in their eyes” — He sat on the anvil and pointed with a hammer towards the many nervous eyes — “They don’t know what to make of you. A defiant maia! How outrageous. You are an unpredictable force. Better keep a safe distance”

Mairon’s hands worked nervously as he cleaned. His mind a mess. He could not for the life of him figure out if he was satisfied or not.. Of course he was not! He had fallen out of favour with his masters, everyone was afraid of him, there was a bloody hole in his house, he no longer enjoyed the company of his friends, and all he just wanted to do was for everyone to leave him alone so he could focus on his work, which would never, ever, EVER be approved and accepted by the Valar!!
He threw his cloth into the bucket in frustration, and the black water splashed everywhere. Everybody stiffened at his sudden outburst. Silence.

“See! I told you!” — Sauron said and pointed yet again to the crowd as evidence.

How could he be satisfied with these circumstances?! He could not! He should not! And yet, he enjoyed it… He enjoyed the solitude. And besides, why would he want to be with people he found uninteresting, annoying, unambitious and stupid? He truly wished for the Valar’s favour… or did he? He only needed it in order to fulfil his own desires. He had no desire to be loyal if it meant he can’t question the actions or commands of his masters. What a fool would do that?! Eonwe’s face flashed behind his eyes.
He needed to breath! He had to clear his head!
Mairon stormed out of the forges. Everyone stepped aside in fear of being caught in his path. Sauron thought of the day Mairon had stormed through the city in order to get to his appointment with Aule in time. This was much the same scenario, except now Mairon was running in the other direction. Away from the forges, out of the city.

Mairon had run to his place of reflection. The place no one knew of. Where he had met Melkor. Mairon had an enormous need to talk to him right now. No! He was a Valar… as he said… The purpose of a maiar is to serve.. What would he not think of him. Why did the opinion of Melkor suddenly matter so much?
Mairon sat on the bench with his head in his hands.

“Am I going crazy? Am I really loosing my mind?”

“Nope! You are finally getting sane if you ask me” — Sauron answered while he picked his ear.

A bird flew over and landed in front of Mairon. It looked up at him. Mairon saw it and reached out his hand. It hoped in to it with no hesitation. Sauron’s eyes widened.

“Oh, that’s right! The bird!” — he exclaimed in amazement. He remembered it all now. The faceless voice had asked him if he remembered, but the question had been so vague, he was not sure what exactly it meant. Now he knew. THAT bird. He laughed out of pure excitement.
Mairon stroked the bird gently. It’s small eyes showed no fear. He had often looked at the birds here through the years. How fragile they were. He sometimes even found them dead. Laying on the ground, half eaten or rotten. Sometimes when they were still fresh he had picked them up to look at them more closely. Death had always fascinated him. Some said that the only thing that made something alive, was the fact that it was going to die at some point. The Maiar and the Valar was bound the world and its fate. They could never die. Did that mean that they weren’t alive? He didn’t care about that. But death was still a mystery to him. He couldn't quite grasp the concept of an unstoppable ending to all that is you. One day you are here, and the next, all that made you the one you were, is gone. The only thing left is the shell, and even that doesn’t last for long after the host has left it. Such a fragile existence. So uncertain.
He put his hand around the bird. It began to struggle. It wanted to get away. Mairon continued to stroke the birds head ever so gently. It calmed it a little. He scratched the top of its head. It closed its eyes in enjoyment.
He broke its neck.
It hung limply over his thumb. It took Mairon a moment to realise what he had just done. His eyes widened with the realisation. He smiled. Then he frowned worriedly.

“Why did I do that?!” — he asked with horror.

“Because you could” — Sauron answered calmly.

“It makes no sense…”

“Does it need to? To kill is a matter of either necessity or pleasure, in this instance: pleasure”

“This is wrong! This is so wrong!”

“No! This is right! Its the nature of the world! Its the nature of you. You are a killer. Why? Cause you have the power to be one. This is who you are! Who WE are! who I am!”

Mairon looked down at the small bird in his hands. His face showed his inner battle. Sauron moved in close. As close as he could get.

“Don’t tell me it didn’t feel good? To feel that rush of ecstasy. To have that kind of power over another being. It’s addictive, isn’t it?”

Sauron noticed a twitch in the corners of Mairon’s mouth. A gleam in his eyes.

“Yes. Just let go” — he whispered slowly.

Just as Mairon gave after and smiled fully, he quickly clasped a hand on top of his mouth in an attempt to fight it. His face folded into a pained expression.
He stood up with the bird in his hand, and ran home, all the while Sauron laughed wickedly.

He had managed to repair the hole in his ceiling with some boards. It was not completely satisfactory, but he had now secured himself from the outside. When it rained, it did drip a little bit from the boards, but luckily he had enough cups to manage that. The sound was an ever continuing cycle of dripping. Sauron tried to entertain himself by avoiding the drops from hitting his hand on their way down.
In the corner of the workroom, Mairon sat by his workbench. His hands worked fast, almost manic. The sound of tools and metal and flesh. Mairon sat back in his chair and wiped the sweat from his brow, leaving a small trail of blood, like a brand. His expression showed a vivid thought process. Contemplating the next move. The next step.
He grabbed a book that contained spells, and swiftly turned each page in search of something useful, mumbling to himself while reading.
A drop hit Sauron’s hand and he stopped his unsuccessful attempt of a game. He looked over at Mairon who was pacing the floor with the book in one hand, and biting down into the other.

“Seriously… you need to relax” — he said, not out of concern.
The dripping continued. Mairon’s pacing continued. Sauron rolled his eyes. It knocked on the door. The dripping continued. Mairon’s pacing continued. Sauron smiled. It knocked on the door. The dripping continued. Mairon’s pacing continued. The door opened. Footsteps. The dripping. The pacing. An icy warm voice.

“Mairon?”

Silence.
Mairon stopped and looked up from his book. In the doorway to his wrecked workroom stood Melkor. He looked at Mairon, and his expression revealed his concern. Mairon did not look well. His hair was a mess, his clothes was dusty and hung inelegantly on him. A thin line of dried blood across his brow. Dark circles under his eyes, and he had bit so hard into his hand that he hadn’t realised the blood dripping onto the page of the book. Melkor then moved his gaze to estimate the damage of the room. It was a reflection of its owner.
He stepped into the room. Walked over to Mairon and took the book from his hand, closed it and put it away. He then gently removed Mairon’s other hand from his teeth. Mairon’s eyes silently following him. No resistance. Melkor then lifted Mairon’s chin, to look at his face more closely. He wiped the blood from the corner of Mairon’s mouth, and brushed his ashy hair away from his face. Then he gave Mairon a soft smile. Like he had found what he was searching for under all of the mess. Mairon didn’t return the smile, but Melkor didn’t expect that. He guided Mairon over to a chair and sat him down.

“Should I make us some tea?” — he then asked. Mairon shook his head — “I’ve used it all…” — Melkor looked at all of the untouched cups of tea around the room, and then back at Mairon. Then he sat in the opposite chair. They were silent for a while. The only noise filling the room was the ever continuing dripping from the boards.

“Eonwe did say that Curumo had done some damage”

“He is paying for the repairs”

“I see”

The dripping continued. Mairon fumbled with his hands in his lap. He only occasionally looked at Melkor, then back at the table filled with cups collecting water.

“Why are you here?” — he asked.

“I heard stories about you, and I wanted to see if you were all right”

Mairon gave a snort. Melkor was surprised by Mairon’s sudden rudeness. He waited to see if Mairon was going to apologise, as he always had before, but there was no sign of it in his distant eyes.

“… I’m sorry I have not stopped by before now. I have wanted to many times, but my schedule would have it otherwise. My brother has kept me busy. When I heard of your incident at home, and your absence at the forges, I started to worry”

Mairon’s gaze was still fixed on the table. He didn’t answer. He was tired of people telling him that he made them worry.
Melkor leaned in and took Mairon’s hands in his to keep them still. Mairon still did not look at him.

“Mairon… I am leaving Almaren tomorrow”

Mairon stiffened. He slowly turned his head to look at Melkor. He knew that he would eventually leave, but still, the thought of his absence was something that caused his chest to tighten.

“I don’t want to leave not knowing if you are going to be well. Tell me, what is bothering you? How can I help?”

His eyes patiently waited for Mairon to tell him. Mairon opened his mouth then closed it again. Hesitantly, he tried to form a sentence. If he was going to talk to anyone of his troubles, Melkor was probably the best option for him. But Mairon was puzzled.

“… Why are you so concerned about me?” — he finally asked. Melkor looked at him for while. Then he answered with such elegance and sincerity, like it was the undisputed truth.

“You have a mind like no other, Mairon. Your thoughts fascinate me. Your ideas inspire me, and I see great potential in you. Your spirit is not enslaved or limited by expectations of others. You fight for your beliefs even if your opponents are the mightiest of beings. You would burn down the world before you surrendered to anyone. You, you intrigue me”

Melkor’s face showed no sign of lies or empty flatter. Mairon was stunned. Melkor still held Mairon’s hands in his, and now he squeezed them gently as a plea for him to trust him. Mairon saw into his eyes and cautiously began to speak.

“I… I fear I’m losing my sanity… I am not myself. I find myself enjoying things I shouldn’t. I have frightened my friends, angered my masters… I am defiant towards the way things should be… And yet… I cannot comply and go back to how things once were… I have fallen from grace and favour! I have failed all!”

Melkor listened to his words. No sign of disgust or fear. When Mairon was done talking, he waited for a response. He was prepared for anything. But he hoped for a solution, if Melkor had any. Melkor thought for a little while, taking in Mairon’s words. When he was about to answer, they were interrupted by noises from Mairon’s workbench.
Mairon turned pale and his panicked eyes were distantly looking away. Melkor on the other hand looked in the direction of the sound and frowned curiously. He got up from his chair, Mairon still frozen to the spot, and walked towards the noises. Mairon’s heart pounded feverishly in his chest.
Melkor was now at the workbench. He had his back to Mairon, so if Mairon had looked, he would have been unable to see his face. Sauron watched with great fascination everything unfolding.

“What is this?” — Melkor’s question send a shiver through Mairon. He dared to look towards him, but only faced his awe inspiring back. Mairon tried to come up with an explanation, an excuse, even a denial, but could think of nothing. He had nothing.
On his workbench laid the bird he had killed yesterday. But it wasn’t just an animal anymore. He had made it part machine in an attempt to “fix” it. He honestly didn’t know what he was thinking. A thought had just come to him, a simple question; was it possible? Could it be done? Only now did it occur to him how sick it was. Especially since the noises was the sounds of suffering. The bird was suffering. Heaving for breath through the mechanical parts. And now Melkor had seen it. He had truly gone insane.

“What is this, Mairon?” — Melkor asked again, more demanding this time. Mairon jumped to his feet and hurried towards the door.

“I must go to the Valar!” — he said in a distressing voice. Melkor grabbed his arm and held him back. His hand painfully tight in its grasp.

“No!” — he exclaimed desperately — “You cannot go to them!”

“I must! I need help.. I need guidance! Look at what I have done! What is it, you ask? I killed that bird, for no reason at all! And I made it into THAT! It is in pain… I cannot… I have reached my limit…”

He tried to get free of Melkor’s grasp, but he was strong. Melkor now turned him around, and forced Mairon to face him.

“Look at what you have made!” — Mairon looked away, unable to face the contempt Melkor no doubt had for him right now. Who wouldn’t — “Look at me!” — he demanded. His voice so fierce Mairon couldn't help but obey. He slowly looked up and saw, to his surprise and disbelief, not contempt but excitement. Melkor’s gaze burned with passion. His smile was something Mairon had never seen on him before, perhaps only when he had fought him in the past on the battle field. He pointed to the bird and pushed Mairon towards it.

“Look at it! No one could have done this but you. You say you have reached your limit? No, my dearest Mairon. You are limitless!”

Sauron had to see the transformation in Mairon’s face. This moment had forever been burned into his memory. He had to absorb every little detail and relish in it.
Mairon walked closer to the bird. Each step heavy and hesitant. Melkor watched his every move. When Mairon finally got there and looked at his creation, Melkor continued his flow of praise.

“Look at it. Is it perfect? No. Not even close. But don’t you see? The potential! The possibility of greatness. This is the first step towards something grander, Mairon! Its suffering is the price of progress. And progress must be sought after at all costs. If no one dared to do the unthinkable, the morally questionable, nothing would ever be achieved. You have done what others would never dare, and you have created something astoundingly beautiful”

Mairon looked at the bird and listened to every sweet word Melkor said. Sauron saw how something in Mairon’s eyes changed. The disgust and fear turned to fascination and pride.

“But I killed it…” — Mairon said nervously — “I broke its neck…”

“Progress at all costs” — Sauron and Melkor said at the same time. Their voice in unity sent a warmth through Sauron’s body — “We also must pay a price for it” — Melkor put his hands on Mairon’s shoulders and pulled him in close. Mairon’s back against Melkor’s torso.

“Mairon the admirable, indeed. Not once have you disappointed me”

Mairon closed his eyes and smiled at the sound of his sweet praise in his ear. These were the words he had longed to hear for so long. To be acknowledged for his true nature. To be accepted because of it and not despite of it. This was the moment Sauron remembered when Mairon finally accepted himself. His inner struggle was gone. He had found his purpose. To achieve progress at all costs. No longer would he seek to please others or follow rules and commands that did not comply to his own believes. And Melkor had helped him realise that.
Melkor. Not Aule.

“My Lord” — Mairon turned to face him. Melkor met his eyes with affection — “Yes, my most brilliant maia?”

“Let me be at your service, my Lord. No longer do I wish to serve Aule, and follow his guidance and commands. No, let me follow you! I will leave with you tomorrow, if you will have me?”

Melkor stroked his cheek tenderly. How proud he was. It shone in his fiery red eyes like furnaces.

“No” — He answered — “I will not have you”

Mairon stepped away from his caress. He looked at Melkor perplexed and in disbelief — “But why, my Lord? You said I have not disappointed you. Where is my fault? I will correct it, I swear it!”

Melkor laughed tenderly, clearly amused by how upset Mairon was. He walked up to him. Mairon backed further away.

“I will not have you, cause you are not ready to do what I would ask of you”

Sauron nodded in agreement. Mairon took great offence to his words — “How can I prove my worth to you?”

Melkor watched the eager maia in front of him in a thoughtful manner. He then made gestures that suggested that he thought hard and thoroughly of his options. Sauron knew that it was acting. Melkor was toying with Mairon. Mairon waited impatiently. Then Melkor finally looked back at him.

“I will have you return to the forges. Return to your friends and masters. Repair what has been broken between you, and get back their favour. THIS is how you can prove your worth to me”

Mairon stared at him. Was he really serious? Was this a test of loyalty? What could be the purpose of it? Melkor’s face showed no sign of hesitation. He was dead serious. Mairon swallowed.

“If that is what you wish of me, my Lord. I will do as you ask” — he said with no sign of doubt in Melkor’s request. He trusted him completely. Even if he could not see the reason in his command right now, he would eventually. Melkor replied with a smile.
There was someone at the door. Mairon had to go at see who it was and left Melkor alone. Well, Sauron was with him.
He circled his master in admiration.
This was where it all had started. This glorious moment of confidence and truth. How thankful he was that Melkor had come to him when he did and showed him the way. His loyalty had not faded through all of the ages when he had been absent of his master. He had continued their fight and never stopped believing in their goal. He regretted nothing.
Melkor walked over to the bird that still laid suffering on the workbench. His face folded into concentration. He moved his hand over the bird and it went silent. As dead as it was before. Sauron’s face went pale. Melkor gave a sly smile.

“No… no, no, that’s not right…” — Sauron hurried over to the bird and picked it up to examine it — “No, no, no! That… No, this was my creation! My work! I did it! IT WAS ME!!” — he threw the bird at Melkor with great force — “YOU FUCKING BASTARD!”

No reaction. Sauron’s whole body trembled with frustration and pure, unholy, anger. His most prized creation of all time, was a lie. He had never been able to recreate it, and now he knew why. Melkor had deceived him. He had made the bird come alive. Mairon had had nothing to do with it except killing the goddamn bird. Melkor, that cunning bastard. How dare he! HOW FUCKING DARE HE!
Sauron couldn’t control his wrath. He launched himself at Melkor in an attack. He was going to tear him to pieces and he would enjoy every second of it.
Melkor grabbed Sauron’s arm and stopped his attack.
He stared into Sauron’s eyes and every bit of his evil nature came through that fiery gaze and froze Sauron cold to the spot. Fear engulfed his spirit and he could feel its icy grasp at his core. Smoke rose from Melkor’s hand on Sauron’s arm. It trembled beneath him. How easily he had forgotten it, when he had watched his master in this illusion of the past, sitting in tiny chairs and drinking tea. But now he remembered, cause the one who stared into his soul, was none other than Morgoth himself; the black enemy.

“Aule has sent for me… He wishes to see me at the forges tomorrow” — Mairon had returned.

“I am glad to hear it!” — Melkor replied with a smile. He was as if Sauron had never attacked him. But Sauron himself, was still frozen, arm raised and aching with a smoking mark on his forearm. He lowered it slowly and rubbed it cautiously. He was still in shock. Sick to his stomach.
Melkor walked up to Mairon and bid him farewell. Mairon wished for him not to leave, but he had his duties to attend to, in other words, his brother.

After Melkor had left he went back into his workroom and over to his workbench.
With great disappointment he saw that the bird had died.

Chapter Text

“Of course it was him… How could I be so stupid?”

The head in Sauron’s hands gave no answer. He sat by the decapitated corpse. He had fled Mairon’s house as soon as he had regained some sense. The shock still lingered strongly in his bones. He had to kill. Anyone. It didn’t matter who. The first soul he stumbled upon became his victim.
The blood dripped from the head and ran down his arms. Sauron had gotten no pleasure from the murder. He threw the head away.
He sat for a long time just staring at Mairon’s house in the distance. His mouth was dry. His whole body heavy.

“How fucking dare he… How could he take that away from me…?”

He had expected to hear the faceless voice, but no mockery had been uttered in his head the whole time. Perhaps the valar pitied him. He didn’t care. He didn't even care where he was anymore, or who held him captive. All had lost its importance. The most defining moment in his life, his greatest scientific accomplishment, had been a lie. An illusion. A trick to ensnare him.
He knew that Melkor was a liar. A deceiver. He knew he had lied in order to get Mairon’s attention. If he had approached him with nothing but the truth, Mairon would have gone running to the Valar immediately. But Melkor had revealed all of his lies to Mairon eventually. They had no secrets for each other. They’re alliance demanded absolute honesty. Or so he had thought…
Sauron’s image of his master crumbled to dust.
Had he been nothing more than another tool? Another weapon in his war against his brother? Had he really been a fool to believe otherwise?

He threw himself backwards and landed on the blood soaked ground. His hands covering his face. He drew a sigh of frustration.

“Fucking bastard!”

The following day Sauron watched as Mairon entered the great forges again. This time, triumphant. Determined to prove his worth to Melkor. He watched how Mairon marched steadfast through the nervous crowd. He saw the uneasiness in their eyes, and the burning fire in Mairon’s. He saw him bow low before Aule and beg for forgiveness. He vowed to follow every command of the Valar blindly. To never again step out of line and go against their orders. Sauron saw how Mairon cried his heart out and admitting to the fool he had been. How he had been blinded by his own ambitions, and how he had truly learned his lesson.
Every maiar in the forges saw and heard Mairon’s great performance, and Aule had smiled and forgiven him.
And Sauron had wanted to scream.
He had wanted to stop Mairon. To tell him what he now knew. Demand that he follow his own desires. Have no master, and be his own! But Sauron was unable to reach out and change anything. He was a ghost here. What he saw was an illusion. A memory. Events already long since past, and unchangeable.
And now he was trapped. Defeated. Deceived.
Was it a trick of the Valar? No.. something in him knew that what he had seen, had been true. He couldn’t tell why. He just knew. And it was eating him up.

 

Mairon sought out Curumo. He didn’t know if he was all that surprised at how quickly Curumo began to trust him again.

“I hope you can forgive me, my friend” — he had said, faking his feeling of guilt.

“No! No, no, Mairon! Of course I forgive you! What happened was my fault, and my responsibility. I hope that you can forgive me” — Curumo had greatly emphasised his responsibility in the incident. Mairon wanted to smash him in the ground. He couldn’t take Curumo’s ass kissing. But he had smiled and embraced him as a friend. He expressed how relieved he was of this, and even made his eyes show a bit of tears. Curumo’s eyes was watery as well. Mairon held back his desire to laugh.
He used the rest of that day in the forges, charming his way back into their favour. Only slowly did the others begin to trust him again. But eventually they would all be convinced by his performance.

He got home late that day, completely exhausted. Faking friendliness was harder than he had expected. He threw his bag on the floor and dragged himself into his workroom. His day was not over yet. Now he had to concentrate on what was really important; his own work.
He sat down by the table, looked at his research, and smiled. The first true smile he had giving all day. He relaxed back into his chair and stretched.
He looked at the ceiling for a moment. Then his smile faded.
Melkor had left Almaren. He was alone again. In a place with no one to share his mind with. How long would it be before he would see Melkor again, he wondered. Perhaps not for centuries or millenniums… He had restrained himself from running to him all day. But he knew that Melkor would refuse him if he did. No, he had tasked him to do this. To get back the favour of the Valar. Who knows how long that would take. He surely had a lot to repair… What a bother.

There was someone at the door, and Mairon’s heart stopped for a second. Could it be? No, of course not. Don’t be foolish. He opened the door, and it was Eonwe at the other side. Mairon greeted him, not entirely faking his smile. He still considered Eonwe his friend.

“I heard you returned to the forges today” — he said with a smile. He was so happy for Mairon’s improvement.

“Yes, I was lost for some time. Doubting myself and my masters, If I must be honest with you… But now I have finally figured it out. I know what I must do and I am determined to succeed. I have realised my purpose at last”

The best way to tell a lie, is by telling the truth.

“I knew you would, my dearest friend” — Eonwe said proudly. He handed over a small package to mairon who looked at it curiously — “This is for you. Our “guest” left today. My lady has been in a great mood all day. Lord Manwe on the other hand… well, Lord Melkor gave this to me and asked to have it delivered to you. I must say I was rather surprised by his request… Have you and Lord Melkor met?”

Mairon fought back a smile, and kept a confused face to match Eonwe.

“Well… we met at the council, I suppose… Perhaps he felt bad for what happened? I mean, my way of handling it was no secret”

“Lord Melkor? Feeling bad for you?” — Eonwe asked even more confused. Mairon shrugged to show how baffled he was himself. He put the package away, as if he had no interest in it.

“Anyway… Do you think it possible for me to come by at some point, and offer an apology to our king and queen? I think I should do that at least”

“Sure! I believe you can stop by next week. I’ll let you know once I am certain”

They said goodbye after having talked for a bit. Eonwe felt relieved over his friend’s recovery, and Mairon sent him away not suspecting a thing. As soon as he had closed the door he eagerly grabbed the package and opened it. There was a letter with it. It simply read : “I will return”. The package contained a small box, and inside it was a golden necklace with a single red gem. The long golden chain was so fine, and the gem was so pure. Mairon marvelled at the level of craftsmanship. With such a simple design it was easy to find flaws, but everything was perfectly executed, and the materials used was exquisite. He lifted the necklace up from the box. The gem was a special one. It would change colour depending on the light. Right now it was blood red, but when he held it up to the window, it turned icy blue. Mairon put it on immediately. Such a fine gift. Sauron remembered it.
He had treasured it greatly through all the years he was alone in Almaren. It would be another century before he saw his master again. Another century full of lies and fake smiles. All for the sake of pleasing Melkor. Sauron looked at Mairon’s tender smile as he admired his master’s gift for him. His fists tightened.

“You fool..!” — he hissed through his teeth. He thought of all the hard work to come, of all the labour and pain he would endure for his master. His head was pounding. He couldn’t remove his eyes from Mairon’s peaceful face. Lies! Lies! Lies! LIES!
In pure and raw anger he grabbed Mairon’s hair and threw him on the table and held him down.

“You think that he saved you!? That he understands you!? More lies! He doesn’t care about you! He only desires you for your skills! You are nothing!”

He dragged the terrified Mairon across the table, knocking into everything that was on it. The tools cut him and the candles burned him. Sauron then pulled him up and threw him on the floor. He kicked him in the stomach over and over again, each kick more forceful than the last. Mairon coughed painfully and tried desperately to breath.

“Wake up!!” — he shouted over and over again.

He picked Mairon up from the floor and slammed him against the wall. Mairon desperately trying to fight back an invisible enemy. Sauron grabbed the golden necklace from Melkor and twisted it. Mairon started to choke.

“You are a tool bought with flattery and jewellery!”

Mairon’s face turned a strange colour. Blood running from his nose and mouth and cuts on his face. He began to drool and tears started flowing. Sauron was so disgusted by him. He grabbed a letter opener that laid close by and drove it into Mairon’s stomach. As he did that mairon spat out blood and spit onto Sauron who did not flinch. He twisted it in his stomach, and saw how the life left Mairon’s golden bloodshot eyes.

“You brilliant fool..!”

Sauron lat go of him and stepped back. Mairon slowly collapsed down and fell onto the floor leaving a trail of blood on the wall. As he lay immovable blood surrounded him. His eyes still wide open. Sauron’s eyes fixed on him. The blood reached his feet.

“… You brilliant fool…”

Mairon walked in and sat down. He had better start working on his research now. He took one last look at Melkor’s gift. Then he began.
Sauron’s tired eyes looked at him in defeat. Then back. Mairon’s body was gone from the floor. There was no blood. Everything was as before.

“Who’s the fool now?” — the faceless voice said.

“Who are you!?” — Sauron yelled out — “Is it you Manwe? Namo? Irmo? — Sauron looked around him — “… Aule? … Eonwe…?”

There was no answer, but he could feel its presence. How he despised that voice. There was no answer. Sauron put on his calm face and spiteful smile.

“Does my struggle amuse you, whoever you are? Do you think your little game will have me return to you? Well, I am not sorry to disappoint you!”

The voice laughed — “Oh, Mairon…“

That name ran cold down his spine — “Don’t call me by that name… call me by the name you gave me ages ago, if you are to call me anything!”

The voice stayed silent for a moment.

“Sauron”

It echoed loudly in his head. It was painfully loud. He held his hands to his head and gritted his teeth. When the echoing had stopped, he laughed.

“Yes! That’s it! Sauron! Gorthaur the cruel! That’s me! You’ve got me trapped here. What for!? Answer me this!”

“To see your past”

“I’ve got that much figured out, but why?”

“Do you regret?” — the voice asked him, instead of answering.

“Regret what? I regret nothing!”

“Oh but Mairon, we both know that’s not true. You regret everything”

Sauron froze. He could sense the owner of the voice watching him.

“You are full of doubt, Mairon, and doubt kills the devoted”

It faded away. Sauron could feel its presence disappear. Silence fell over the room. Mairon had fallen asleep in his documents, tightly holding the necklace in his hand.
Sauron felt his world falling down on him.
He caught a glimpse of his reflection in a mirror in the hall way. Grey skin, red cracks, thin hair, smoke.

Smoke and ash.

Mairon did well.
The following week he was invited to the house of Manwe and Varda. Varda was wearing the circlet. He offered them an apology. He gave a similar speech as in the forges. They too forgave him. Manwe immediately ordered another commission to celebrate Mairon’s turn for the better. And Mairon gladly accepted.

After some time, Mairon began to receive the same treatment at the forges as he had before. The never ending requests for guidance and advice returned. He was even more eager now to help then before. He grew more popular, and he never bothered Aule again with his plans, which Aule greatly appreciated. He seemed more devoted to his masters than he had ever been before.
The admiration for him grew with an astounding speed. The story of Mairon spread to all ears.
How he had fallen from grace and honour, but now had returned more magnificent than ever! The greatest among the maiar!
How easily they were deceived. Once mairon did as they wanted, they could not resist him.
The most devoted of all!
And he truly was. But not to them.

Decades past.
Mairon was now the most influential among the maiar in Almaren. He knew of all the plans of the valar. He knew everything that was going on. His knowledge of things spread to every corner of Arda. They all came to him for advice, even the Valar themselves. They could not deny his brilliant mind for planning, keeping systems and orders, his ingenuity and flair for tactics.
No longer was he just at the service of Aule, but to all. His tireless nature earned him even more admiration. He was loved by all.
During the day he put on a great performance, and at night he worked long hours. His own research could not be neglected.

He quickly grew to be a master persuader and negotiator. He could make anything happen if he really wanted it to, but in such a way so that no one lost their admiration for him. He had to be on everyone’s good side. That was his task. His acting as a friend also grew so convincing and effortless, that he soon was not exhausted by it anymore. It became a second nature to him. To lie and deceive was soon as natural as breathing for Mairon.
And that was very fortunate for him, cause with each day he began to hate the people around him even more. Every day the smile he gave people, became ever more fake.
His friendships grew stronger and closer but they were all an act. He detested them. Soon he even dreamed of murdering them all, and those dreams were the sweetest. The best of them, were the ones with Eonwe. Him, he hated the most. He came to symbolise all that Mairon hated. His dearest friend, his greatest enemy.

Even more decades past.
Mairon wore the necklace Melkor had given him. It reminded him of why he had to go on. He had to prove his worth. He had still not understood how this would prove himself to his beloved master, but he was sure it would be revealed to him in time.
Mairon had realised that his desires and needs could never be a reality in Almaren. Not even if Melkor decided to join them. Everything around him that was a testimony to the Valar and their power, he despised. To him, they symbolised the rule of unambitious masters and delayed progress. They hindered the vision Mairon had for the world. How everything should be. They stood in his way. They had to be rid off, before he could do as he pleased, because no doubt they would try to stop him. They would not understand, as they never had, as he once had not. But now he did. Progress at all costs. Nothing must keep it from happening.

A century had past.
No word from Melkor for a century. The letter he had given him had turned brown and yellow by time. He often looked at it to bring him hope —“I will return” — it said. He kept it close to him more and more often.
Today, at the forges, it had somehow managed to get close to the flames. It fell out of his pocket and with great distress Mairon had seen it disappear into smoke and ash. At least he still had the necklace. But how he longed for his master. His true master. To be freed from this prison of fools where he had to act friendliness every single day. How he longed for a conversation worth having. How he longed to be himself.
When would his master come for him?

Sauron had no choice but to stay. He could not escape.
For a century he watched Mairon crawl down the path he knew all too well.
Occasionally the faceless voice came to ask him questions. Questions of loyalty and regret. But it had become kind. It was patient with him. It left him when he couldn’t take anymore, and returned when he missed it. It had become his only companion. He both loved and hated it. Without it he would have lost his mind. It kept him focused. That, and a murder now and then. But killing didn’t give him the same amount of joy as before.
When the faceless voice came to him, he didn't know how to answer its questions. Did he regret everything? How could he? He couldn't let all of his struggles be for nothing. They HAD to have meaning. But he found it difficult to find any. He was once again the lost maiar he once was in Almaren. Searching for an answer. Looking for help and guidance. Only this time, he had no one to turn to. No fiery eyes and smooth words. He had to discover his answer by himself.

For a century he watched Mairon and sought an answer.

Melkor had destroyed his perception of himself. He had thought himself in control of his own life. But now it seemed that Melkor had pulled every string from the very beginning and even after he was cast away to the void. He had made sure that his fight would be fought even if he could not be there himself. And Sauron could not figure out, if he would do it all over again, if he was given the choice. What would the alternative be?
Stay in Almaren? Impossible.
Go with Melkor? How could he?
Be his own master? Even with the absence of Melkor, he had stayed loyal. Was he even capable of not serving anyone? He was a maiar after all.
He wanted to disappear. To not exist. But he was bound to the world until its end. There was no death to take away his weariness. Perhaps that was the gift of it? To not be tired anymore. An end to it all. Tempting indeed. And kind.
Had he finally understood death? Funny it had taken him this long.

“Do you regret?”

He didn't know.

“Where lies your loyalty?”

He didn't know.

“Would you repent?”

He didn’t know.

“Would you continue your fight?”

He didn’t know.

He didn’t know.

He just didn’t know.

Night time.
Mairon stood and watched the city below. His favoured spot for reflection had remained as his only place for peace and solitude. His hate for all that he could see, from the city to the lamps in the distance, was written on his face. His hand played with his golden necklace around his neck. He thought of seas of flames engulfing everything in its wrath. He did not smile, even though the thought gave him pleasure. He had grown impatient. He was stretched thin. It won't be long before he would smash the skull in on someone. Lately he had had to restrain himself more than usual.
How he hated that city and everyone in it.
Sauron watched the city too. His eyes tired. So tired. He still had no answer to the faceless voice.
Mairon’s grab around his necklace tightened as he continued to fantasise of destruction and ruin. He got so lost in his thoughts. His gaze was still intensely directed at the city.

“How have you been? My dearest Mairon.”

The icy warm voice with its smooth words had returned to him. Sauron did not turn around to look at Melkor. Neither did Mairon, but that was out of fear of it being a dream. He heard footsteps come towards him. Melkor embraced him from behind and covered him in his dark cloak. A warmth ran through Mairon’s body and he sighed — “Master!”

“Have you enjoyed yourself in my absence?” — He asked teasingly. Mairon laughed genuinely.

“It has been torture! Dull beyond measure, and completely exhausting! You don’t know how I have struggled for you, my Lord. But I have done as you asked. I am now the most trusted maiar in the service of the Valar”

He could feel Melkor’s chest moving, and how he sighed in satisfaction of Mairon’s work. They remained silent for a while. Together they looked out on the world of the Valar. Mairon was so happy to have his master by his side again, but he had to know.

“Did you ever want to join the Valar?”

“No” — Melkor answered calmly. Mairon smiled in relief — “I am glad” — he said — “For I have come to hate them with all of my being”

Melkor rested his head on Mairon’s and sighed again in approval. He had no need to look. Mairon knew that he was smiling. Melkor found Mairon’s hand and saw the necklace in it. He laughed affectionately.

“You once said to me, to have patience. That they would understand in time. Did you mean what you said?”

“No. To be honest with you, I have told you many things, that I did not mean” — Melkor answered. Sauron thought for a moment, that Melkor looked at him, as he said that. But When he looked closer, Melkor was still gazing down on the city. It would be too good to be true.

“What else have you said that was untrue, my Lord?” — Mairon asked out of curiosity, not out of worry. Melkor waited with his answer, suggesting that he thought for a while.

“I lied the first time we met here. When I talked of your masters, of the beauty of the land and of your purpose. I also lied at the council, when I talked to my brother and my fellow Valar. Let me see… what else..?”

Sauron looked up, with the smallest of hopes — “Please…” — he said almost inaudible.

“I do believe there’s nothing more” — he concluded — “Everything else has been the absolute truth”

Sauron looked back down. His memories did not fail him. It was as he thought.
Mairon was pleased with his answer. The more his master shared with him, the more he believed in his desire to join him. He had never been more certain of anything before. He looked at the lamps in the distance and made a sound of disapproval.

“What is it, my precious?” — Melkor asked curiously.

“I hate those lamps and all they stand for. I often dream of their destruction. I wish them forever gone”

“I will destroy them” — Melkor said as surely as if it was nothing — “I will destroy them for you. I too have desired their destruction for ages. Their lights reach too far”

“Yes” — Mairon leaned in closer in to his master’s embrace. For the first time in a century, he felt completely at ease.
Melkor broke their embrace and stepped back. Mairon turned to look at his master for the first time. Melkor held out his hand — “Come Mairon. We have a lot to talk about”

Back in Mairon’s home they sat by the table deep in conversation. They were making plans. Now it had become clear to Mairon why he had to stay and gain the favour of the Valar. Melkor needed a spy among his enemies. He needed someone at the core of things, and he trusted no other than Mairon to do this. And now Mairon shared his knowledge with his master, and Melkor told him of his plans.

“A fortress?”

“Yes. I need to position myself and my armies closer to the enemy. But I must plan it perfectly. It is one thing to conceal myself in order to come here, but to travel with all of my subjects and followers… No, the Valar would strike and stop me immediately. They would figure out my intentions as soon as I make my move and they would imprison me if they ever got their hands on me. This must be planned flawlessly”

They looked at Mairon’s many documents and considered their options carefully. Then Mairon thought of something.

“There is one option! At the end of this year, they will hold a great feast to celebrate their work on Arda. Manwe often holds these great celebrations and no one would be aware of your movement. They would be too distracted by their own celebrations”

Melkor considered that carefully — “It would definitely be possible, but it would have to be a special event. One that demands so much of their attention that there would be no risk for us.”

“They plan to wed Tulkas and Nessa at the feast” — Mairon said with a sly smile. Melkor met his eyes with great satisfaction — “That would be perfect. By the end of this year, you say? That would be enough time for me to plan the move”

“With me at your service, all will be executed flawlessly. You armies will be ready under my careful planning in no time”

“Mairon, you will remain here”

Mairon tore the document in his hands in half when he heard that. He stared at his master in disbelief.

“I need you to stay. Your work here is extremely valuable to me. To us”

Through clenched jaws, Mairon hissed — “And how much longer would you have me remain among these incompetent fools?!” — he tried to control his anger. Melkor smiled kindly.

“Not for much longer. I promise you. As soon as my fortress is build, and our attack carried out, you shall join me as my most trusted lieutenant. You will be by my side, and I by yours, and together we will strike fear into their hearts”

Mairon was still tense with anger and disappointment and did not answer his master. Melkor moved closer to him — “Be patient, my sweet one. Your labour shall be rewarded many times over” — he turned Mairon’s head forcefully to have him look at him. His sweet words were a great contrast to his rough gesture. He looked intensely at Mairon’s surprised face. He admired his fair maia. Melkor’s eyes were so fierce. Mairon quickly found himself weak beneath his gaze.
Sauron watched. His heart ached.

“My sweet, sweet Mairon. How lucky I am to have you” — Melkor whispered. He leaned in closer to Mairon’s perplexed face. Mairon felt his breath on him. Slowly the distance between them narrowed. Melkor stopped. Waiting for Mairon to finish it. And he did. He surrendered and closed the gap between their mouths. Mairon wrapped his arms around his master and gave himself completely to his will.
Sauron’s knees trembled. He leaned against the wall for support. His stomach felt so empty as he watched. Melkor lifted his gaze and stared directly at Sauron with those fierce eyes. This time there was no doubt. He looked straight at him. If Sauron had had the strength, he would have wept.

Chapter Text

The plan worked flawlessly.
The light from the lamps concealed Melkor’s shadow from the Valar, which made it even easier than they had expected. At the festival, Mairon had served Tulkas some wine which made him sleepy. Now his master could move without fear. Tulkas slept peacefully and the Valar noticed nothing suspiciously in the north.

Some time after the festival Melkor called Mairon to him.
He left his home in the middle of the night, disguised as a great silver bird. Melkor needed him for the building of his fortress. Melkor named it “Utumno”. Mairon’s work pleased his master greatly, and he rewarded him with freedom. He gave Mairon such power and authority as he had never had before. Melkor’s people bowed low as Mairon walked by, and they feared him but loved him still.
Sauron watched as his younger self became more and more like a reflection of himself. How each day, Mairon became a little more like Sauron. He saw the shaping of Utumno and remembered. How he had marvelled at his master’s powers, and the result of their joined work. Here, he had mattered, and he had cared. And Sauron began to feel something he hadn’t felt for many decades; Anger.
For so long he had just been numb, as the faceless voice had asked him its questions. Empty. But that night, when Melkor returned to Mairon, when they laid their plans, when Mairon had kissed him, then he had started to feel something again. And now his grief had turned to unforgiving anger.
He wanted revenge.

As Sauron sat on the walls surrounding Utumno, deep in thoughts, he began to wonder. The illusion of Melkor had on more than one occasion looked at him. If this was the void, then his master must surely be here somewhere. Was he behind this illusion of the past? Why? Why would he show his deceit to him? Sauron could see no reason for it. Did he want to punish him for failing his master? To crush his spirit and make him suffer? Sauron could feel his wrath returning and he smiled. The numbness had left his body. He was back, and Melkor should fear him. Now all he needed to do was to find him. He had to be here somewhere.
The light from Melkor’s room caught Sauron’s eyes. He tried to stop himself from thinking about the nights spend there. Could Melkor be concealing himself as his past self? No. He would be watching from afar. He would watch as he crumbled at a safe distance. He knew his master still. He looked around him. The poisonous smoke filled the air, and the water pouring out form the fortress stained the earth. Soon the Valar would know of Melkor’s return. Mairon was still a spy among them. He concealed his absence as research travels, and they trusted him in that. A lightning lit up the dark sky and black rain started to fall.

“Voice?” — Sauron finally asked.

“Yes, Mairon?”

“Where is your master? Where is Morgoth?”

The voice went silent. Sauron waited calmly for it to answer, but it never did. Its silence was proof enough for him.

Mairon got dressed and Melkor watched. He got up and walked over to him. He brushed Mairon’s hair aside, revealing his neck, leaned down and gently placed a kiss there. Mairon smiled, but continued to get dressed. He began to do his hair. He had begun to wear it up, instead of always have it hang loose like before. He had grown fierce and controlled in his appearance, and Melkor was satisfied. Mairon put on his cloak and was now prepared to return to his “home” among the Valar. He sighed deeply. He did not want to leave, but it was his duty to his master. He turned to bid Melkor farewell. He poured some wine into a cup with his back to Mairon, allowing him to fully admire his master.

“I will take my leave now, master”

Melkor turned to face him, taking a sip of his wine. He nodded in acknowledgement. As Mairon was just about to transform into the silver bird, Melkor stopped him.

“Oh, Mairon! By the way—“ he he took another sip and swallowed — “We will attack in about two weeks. Be prepared to leave Almaren for good”

Mairon was stunned. Had the moment finally arrived? Those hideous lamps will fall! His mouth curled into a vicious smile of pure excitement. Melkor returned the joy of Mairon and kissed him goodbye. He tasted of sweet red wine, and left a red stain in the corner of Mairon’s mouth.

“Fly now, my dear” — he said, and Mairon returned to Almaren. His home had become as fake as his smiles. His true home was in Utumno. There he could be himself. As the daylight returned the gem in Mairon’s necklace turned icy blue, and he wondered what colour it would have once the light was destroyed. He knew not, but he was certain that it would be beautiful.

The atmosphere in Almaren grew ever more tense as black clouds came from the north, and the forests around them started to die.

“Melkor, that foul being, is here! He is within our borders and he is corrupting the lands with his filth!”

Aule’s voice was like a thunderstorm when he was angry. Manwe was clearly upset, but with Varda by his side he gathered himself and acted like a king. It was a great assembly with the Valar and the most important Maiar. Mairon sat with Eonwe, Melian, Arien and Osse. Their faces grave, but to the careful observer, one would notice a gleam in Mairon’s eyes. Melian leaned in and whispered to the others.

“How long do you think he has been here? When did he cross the borders? and how?”

“I don’t know. But when he was our guest, he no doubt only came to plan this!” — Eonwe answered with a fury burning in his eyes.

“Don’t be surprised if it turns out he also recruited while he was here” — Osse added — “He has spies among us, trust me on this, he nearly ensnared me once”

“Spies? If I ever find one of his servants I will gladly destroy them. How could any of us betray our masters? What could Melkor possibly have to offer?” — Arien said, fists clenched.

“Power. He promise you power and all that your heart desires. He’ll give you anything just to have you be his. All of it lies. He has no power to share. He wants it all to himself” — Osse explained further. Mairon rolled his eyes. Osse talked as if he knew of Melkor’s true nature. They lived within the world of the Valar. They talked as if Melkor was the big deceiver, when the Valar had everyone enslaved to their will.

“You are so quite, Mairon. Is everything all right?” — Melian asked concerned. Mairon looked up in surprise. All three of them stared at him. Eonwe looked at the necklace around Mairon’s neck, and how he tightly held it in his hands. He frowned. He was the one who came with the gift form Melkor to him. Eonwe was no fool. He would have figured out where that necklace was from by now.

“I… I think it is best that I told you… Melkor came to me, on his visit, and tried to corrupt me. You all remember the state I was in at that time… And he almost got me! But once I saw what he was doing, I returned to our masters, more certain than ever of where I belonged! He talked to me of wonderful things but they were all hollow. I wanted to forget my moment of weakness and move past it, but now… before rumours start to spread… I want you to hear it from me”

The surprise on their faces delighted Mairon. Eonwe as well was surprised, but his gaze still lingered at the necklace. Osse laid a hand on Mairon’s shoulder in support. Arien and Melian expressed their sympathy, but Eonwe remained silent. They looked at each other and their eyes revealed their true thoughts.

At the assembly they all agreed to search for Melkor and drag him before Manwe to receive a judgement. Mairon had no worry. It was too late for them to do anything. They will never find him in time. Their attack came closer day by day, but now, he had to focus on himself. Eonwe suspected him.

Sauron had left Mairon’s side and the faceless voice had not tried to stop him. He was now free to go wherever he wanted. He found that when he left his memories, all of Almaren became empty. There was no one to be found anywhere. It was like walking through a painting. Nothing seemed real. All life was confined within his own memories. Now he saw the illusion for what it truly was. Hollow. Devoid of pulse and warmth. A shell. Not even the wind blew in the trees nor did the birds sing or the river flow. Not even the light changed. All had stopped.
He searched for Melkor. What he would do once he found him he knew not, but he had to find him at all costs. He wanted answers and revenge. He wanted to tear him apart.
He called for him. Shouted his name across valleys and mountains. Mocked him loudly and tried everything he could think of to get him to step forward. He didn’t know how long he had searched. Nothing revealed the passing of time, but he was exhausted. He sat down. He could see the ghostly faint silhouette of the city in the distance.

“Come face me, you coward” — he growled in frustration. He lowered his head and sighed forcefully. He heard someone behind him. There was someone with him in this lifeless place. It could be no one else but him. Steps moved towards Sauron. Steps that suggested a limp. He clenched his fists tightly, and smoke started to rise from them. He had to move quickly. He turned around fast and yelled out in anger, but his throat was crushed beneath a strong hand. He got pushed down onto the ground and was unable to move.

“My, my, aren’t you glad to see me?” — Melkor said teasingly. His scarred face smiled down at him. Sauron did nothing to hide his disgust and spat him in the face. It only made Melkor laugh. He wiped his face with a burned hand while holding Sauron pinned down beneath him with the other.

“ha ha, how I’ve missed you!” — His eyes widened in excitement. He enjoyed watching Sauron twist and fight in order to get free — “Did you really think that your weak form could do me any harm in here? you are nothing more than a shadow of your former glorious self! Your strength destroyed along with that ring of yours. Yes, I know all of it, Mairon, or would you rather have me call you Sauron?”

Sauron grimaced, baring his fangs — “YOU FILTH!” — he hissed. Melkor laughed again. He pulled Sauron up from the ground and let go. Sauron quickly jumped back catching his breath and rubbing his throat.
There he was. Tall and fearful, just as Sauron remembered him. Crippled, scarred, burned, and bloody cocky. He had no fear for Sauron, and it filled him with incredible anger. He launched himself again at him. Melkor seemed disappointed and amused at the same time. He stepped aside and Sauron flew past him.

“Mairon, you are no match for me. Just stop”

“I don’t care! I hate you!”

He attacked again, but Melkor grabbed him and made him unable to move. His red eyes stared into Sauron’s. His arrogant smile was replaced with a thoughtful face.

“You hate me. I suppose it can’t surprise me, now that you know it all”

“Why?! What was the point?! To humiliate me? To punish me? Or were you just so bored you wanted some entertainment?” — Sauron’s voice was so full of hate and disgust but Melkor remained calm.

“Would you rather have not known?” — he asked. His eyes remained fierce, but Sauron noticed something he hadn't seen for a long time in them; worry. Sauron stopped fighting, and glared at him in angry confusing — “What?”

Melkor smiled and started to disappear into smoke. As his hold on Sauron disappeared, Sauron reached out and tried to keep him from disappearing — “NO! Come back, you bastard! COME BACK! We’re not done here!” — but it was of no use. Melkor had vanished. Sauron punched his fist into the ground and shouted out in anger. Out of breath he stared out into the air melkor had disappeared into. What was he playing at?

Sauron had tried to find Melkor again after that, but after some time he returned to Mairon. He couldn’t stand the stillness of the void. He found him in his home. With each passing day Mairon grew increasingly more and more excited for their attack. He found it difficult to hide but he managed. After the assembly Eonwe and Mairon had stayed away from each other. Whenever they were in the same room, their eyes revealed their thoughts. They knew. But Eonwe doubted. Mairon could see it. He still had too many feelings for his friend. Eonwe had to be absolutely certain before he would go to the Valar. Mairon had to do something before that. But what? He couldn’t destroy Eonwe, he was too strong. He didn’t have enough time to plant lies of Eonwe’s character. Would he be able to convince Eonwe that he is wrong? That would probably be the best move to make. But would he truly believe him? Perhaps he need not do anything. The attack would be soon anyway.
Mairon thought of all this while packing. He wanted to bring some of his things with him if possible. Sauron knew that all would be lost in the ocean of flames to come. Nothing would remain after Melkor’s chaos but ash and smoke. But Mairon had yet to comprehend the destruction at hand. Sauron still felt grief for the documents he lost that day.
All packed Mairon took one last look at his home. He walked through each room and took in the silence. He was grateful for the joyous times he had had here, but he was happy to get rid of it. His old life was no more. It had to die. There was more in store for him than he could even imagine, and the unknown possibilities seduced him.
The attack was to be carried out in two days.

Mairon sat in his chair and looked out of his window trying to enjoy some tea. He was too impatient. He wanted the lamps destroyed now. Today was the day. But when? Would his master give a signal? He was restless. He got up. He might as well keep up his appearance and go to the forges. It would keep him busy. When he opened the door he found that Eonwe stood outside, with a raised hand ready to knock. Mairon was so surprised his face gave him away and Eonwe saw it.

“Mairon… please, tell me that it is not true?” — his voice so thin from sorrow he could barely speak.

“Eonwe! I..!” — Mairon stepped back into his home as Eonwe stepped forward, closing the door behind him. His whole being begged for an explanation. His face a mix of sorrow and anger. Betrayal! Mairon knew it would be useless to try and fool him now. He looked around for something he could use as a weapon.

“Mairon! How could you?! Melkor? You’re his spy, aren’t you?!”

Eonwe grew increasingly more angry. He pinned Mairon against the wall and made it impossible for him to escape. Mairon’s hand found a hammer on the table besides him.

“Ha ha, it took you a while to figure it out! But then again, you are not known for your brightness” — Mairon relished in the shock in Eonwe’s eyes. He smiled wickedly — “Would you like to know how long I have served him, my “friend”?”

Eonwe stepped back a bit. His eyes watery and full of disbelief.

“I’ll tell you! 150 years! For 150 years I have been feeding him with all of the knowledge I could gather from our “masters”. It wasn’t even that difficult, since you all welcomed me to be part of everything!” — Eonwe blinked. It was hard for him to look at Mairon, and he saw that, so Mairon continued — “I helped him cross our borders, I helped him build his fortress, and I was happy to do it! You really thought I was happy here? I did well, didn’t I? Everyday I have faked my smiles and hidden my hate for each and every one of you incompetent fools! I hate you all, and all you stand for. And you, Eonwe, I hate you the most!” — his words worked. Eonwe lowered his gaze. He was too distraught to focus. Mairon walked closer, raising his hand with the hammer — “I have long dreamed of your destruction! And today I shall be rewarded for my patience”

As he said that, and lowered the hammer to strike, Eonwe looked up in surprise — “Today!?” — he stopped Mairon in his attack by grabbing his hand with the hammer — “What happens today?!” — he received nothing but a knife in the side. Mairon smiled as he looked at the pained expression of Eonwe’s face. He backed away and pulled the knife out of himself. He pressed his hand to the wound. He glared up at Mairon and it made him laugh. A laugh of euphoria and relief. He finally released the tension he had harboured for 150 years. He laughed so much it chilled Eonwe to the bones.

“You… Sick fuck..!”

“Ha ha ha, that may be, but at least I am true!”

The light outside flickered, and it was soon followed by an enormous rumble like thunder. Mairon dropped the hammer in his hands.

“It is happening!” — he gasped. Eonwe watched him in daunting realisation — “… The lamps..!”

They both hurried outside and looked to the north. In the far distance they could see mighty Illuin fall slowly from the sky. How tall it was, and how far it had to fall. A second wave of flickering of the light, and another rumble hit them from the south. Ormal was now also crumbling and falling slowly to the ground. The light of both of the lamps still burned brightly in their fall.
Mairon turned to Eonwe victorious, so he could see his face. The terror was obvious and tears fell from his eyes. Tears also fell from Mairon’s eyes, but of a different kind.

“Run to your masters, bird brain, and I shall go to mine”

The light began to dim as the lamps came ever closer to the ground. Mairon became silhouetted by the fiery light of the northern horizon, as well as Eonwe did by the dying light of the south. He said nothing, but his wings formed on his back and he flew away still pressing a hand to the wound Mairon gave him.
Mairon turned to glance at the horizon once more. He then ran inside to get his things. He knew that it wouldn’t be long before the blast would reach him. But how long he did not know. Sauron had lingered inside the house. He watched the bloodstains on the floor left by Eonwe. Mairon had rushed inside the house and stepped in them, leaving bloodied footprints all over the house. A trail of blood revealing the future to come.
Mairon hastily tried to get all of his things together, but he realised that he had too many documents. He could not possibly carry them all. But which should he leave behind?! Sauron looked outside the window. The sky had turned dark. Only the horizon gleamed with a fiery glow. The waves of flames were coming. Mairon had unpacked all of his documents and feverishly tried to sort them by importance, but he struggled. Sauron walked over and crouched down in front of him. He watched him closely.

“It all starts now, you know. There’s no return. They will name you Sauron. You will be feared. You will fight in great wars, some you will lose and some you will win. You will accomplish marvellous wonders. You will thrive more than you could ever have imagined, but also suffer the same” — Sauron thought of the questions the faceless voice had asked him. He looked at Mairon’s face disappearing into darkness — “Will it be worth it? Would you do it anyway?” — Their eyes met briefly before the darkness claimed them both.

It was so quiet. In the distance they could hear a low rumbling growing. From the window a fiery glow grew in strength until the light was so intense it blinded them.
Mairon’s house was torn apart by the blast and threw them far away. Luckily Mairon was a being of fire so he didn’t perish in the flames. But his body did take a rough tumbling across the landscape. They landed unconscious far from his house surrounded by flames.

Sauron sensed someone near him. He looked up and saw Melkor above him.

“You look terrible” — he said. Sauron threw himself away from him, but he was still feeling the effect of the blast. He fell down again and pressed a hand to his head.

“Get away from me..!”

“I thought you told me to stay? That we weren’t done here? But if you want me to go…”

“NO! No… stay and answer my questions, you piece of shit”

“First, you will have to answer mine”

Sauron sat up. His eyes had trouble focusing. He looked around trying to gather himself a bit. Mairon laid not far away. He was still unconscious with a line of blood running from a wound on his forehead. He then looked back at Melkor, who was sitting patiently in front of him.

“… your questions?” — Sauron asked — “Yes. Do you regret?”

“What..?”

“Where lies your loyalty?”

“You can’t be serious? After everything you’ve done to me!”

“Would you continue your fight?”

“What fight? That fight was lost! We’re both in the void! They’ve won”

Sauron tried to stand, still a little uneasy on his legs, he flung a punch at Melkor, missed and landed face down besides him. Melkor sighed deeply.

“You still wish to fight me?”

“I wish to murder you!”

“Mairon, my dearest—“

“You took it away from me! My greatest scientific achievement! You used me like a tool. Manipulated me into doing your will without me realising it. I was a blind fool! Nothing but your puppet. And now you dare ask me about my loyalty?”

“I’ll ask you again then: would you rather have not known of my deceit? Would you have lived on believing that you indeed brought that bird back to life? That you “created” life? What good would that have done you?”

“It would have kept me at peace!”

“But it was a lie. That’s not how I remember you. That you would rather have lived a lie than known the truth? That’s not who you are, Mairon”

“ENOUGH!”

Sauron sprung to his feet, more steady this time. He had had enough of Melkor’s games.

“Now! Tell me WHY you are doing this!”

Mairon woke up. He moaned as he sat up. He pressed a hand to his head. The wound had covered most of his face in blood. He tried to focus his eyes on his surroundings.
Melkor stepped aside and pointed to him — “look!” — he said to Sauron — “Look at him, at yourself, and think of what I did for you! I gave you freedom! Yes! I lied, I deceived, I manipulated, but don’t tell me that I did not liberate you!”

Sauron hesitantly stepped towards Mairon and looked more closely.
Mairon now saw it all clearly. The ocean of flames around him. He had landed on a hill and could see the city burn. The sky was so dark and the fire choked the light from the stars. It was beautiful. He witnessed the power of his master in all its glory, and it was beautiful. Mairon could not contain his joy. He smiled and laughed and cried. His eyes shone from the flames around him. He had never before felt so complete. He was free to be who he truly was. There were no restraints anymore. Watching Mairon it dawned on Sauron, that if the bird had never happened, if he had never killed it, and if Melkor had never tricked him, it would not have mattered at all.
Mairon had a desire and a drive in his being that was impossible to kill or control. He would still have been unhappy among the Valar, and he would have gone crazy over time. Melkor found him in his hour of need, and had shown him how to give in to his true self. He talked to him in ways that made him listen, not only to him, but to himself. Melkor saw who he was and released him from his chains. Sauron had followed him down into the mud of this world, and now he knew, that he would have done it all again, just to be free, just to be himself. Melkor played unfairly, he used dirty tricks, but that was what it had required.
If the bird had never happened, Sauron would still have been trapped inside of Mairon.
The light in Mairon’s eyes washed away the blinding rage Sauron had in him. He had been unable to see the true meaning of it all because of his ego. But now Mairon had rid him off it.
Sauron turned and looked at his master, who was patiently waiting.

“But why did you show me? Why not just let it be?”

“We have been separated for ages, Mairon. I had to make sure that I could still count on your devotion, even if you knew it all. I need your loyalty now more than ever. Our fight is far from over. They made one big mistake; they sent you to the void. They sent you to me. With you by my side, my brilliant Mairon, we will find a way out of here, and they will once again fear us”

Sauron looked back at the joyous Mairon, smeared in his own blood and tears. He had truly been born that day. Melkor walked up to Sauron and stood besides him.

“He will be amazing” — Melkor said without a trace of doubt.

“I always was” — Sauron replied, just as certain as his master. But he still had to know. He would find no peace of mind if he didn’t know. He turned to Melkor and looked him straight in the eyes.

“Answer me this, my Lord… Was I ever more than a tool for you?”

Melkor looked down at his precious maia. He was silent for a moment, then he raised his hand and cupped Sauron’s cheek, but he refused his gesture of affection. Melkor understood. Sauron wanted nothing but the raw truth.

“Would you believe me if I told you?”

“That would depend on how you tell me”

And so among flames and ruins, in an illusion of the past, Melkor told Sauron the truth.

Mairon laid on the ground, still in ecstasy. A tall figure approached him. It kneeled down besides him and stroked his hair gently. Mairon looked up into red eyes. A smile formed on his bloodied and tearstained face.

“Are you satisfied, my brilliant one?”

“I am. How ever did I deserve such a mighty master?”

Melkor smiled and lifted the bruised maia from the ground.

“Let us return home, shall we?”

“Yes. At long last. Home”

The gem in his necklace had turned a new colour. And it was beautiful.