Veiled Light, A: 13. Chapter 12

Reader Toolbox   Log in for more tools

13. Chapter 12

Chapter 12 The moonlight transformed the waters of the sea into a churning silver mass, spreading out endlessly beneath them. Sorontur flew high above the sea and Ilmarë rested her head against the cushion of feathers covering his neck. She watched the bright circle of the moon, remembering the times she and Tilion had spent together in Lórien tending to Silindrin and the dews of the silver Tree. Now he traveled through the sky with the last flower of Telperion, and its light shown from the vessel of the moon, shining down on Ilmarë as she made her own travels through the sky…though she tried not to think of where her journey would take her lest she have a change of heart and return to Valinor. The sea gave way to land, but Sorontur’s speed was such that Ilmarë could scarcely discern any details. The eagle’s wings stretched out to glide on the winds as he nosed downward and took them closer to the ground. Ilmarë saw a wide expanse of green - like an enormous mossy patch spreading across the lands below. Sorontur flew lower still, and when the lands of Beleriand came closer into view Ilmarë realized she was looking at the top of a giant forest. “Doriath…” Sorontur continued to look straight ahead, but the word came to Ilmarë as clearly as if he had spoken it aloud. Melian’s home…Ilmarë watched the forest pass swiftly beneath them, the very place that had given her friend so great a joy and so grievous a pain. Sorontur’s wings beat the air as he turned toward the north. The green roof of Doriath ended in blackness Ilmarë’s eyes could not penetrate. Cold horror crept into her spirit and her arms tightened around the feathered neck as she struggled to overcome the fear that clutched at her. “His power begins here, Ilmarë. The Elves call this place Nan Dungortheb. Mortals call it the Valley of Dreadful Death. It is an evil place and all avoid it. There is still time to turn back.” Ilmarë closed her eyes and pressed her face into Sorontur’s feathers, but shook her head and sent her silent reply. “No, Sorontur, there is no time. I must do this. If you are willing to take me, my friend, then I am willing to go.” The eagle did not reply and kept his golden eyes focused on the approaching horrors ahead. Soon, his voice echoed in her head again. “Look below – the Ered Gorgoroth, and they border our destination: Taur-nu-Fuin, the Forest Under Night. It is here that he makes his home.” When the lands beyond the black rim of mountains came into view she gasped. The horror she felt over Dungortheb was tenfold here. Everywhere were hideous trees, if they could indeed be called trees, twisted into skeletons and crowded close together in a mass forest grave. Roots groped blindly like tentacles in the dark, reaching up from the putrid earth and searching for prey. Pale and bent figures slithered their way beneath the trees, lighting the forest floor with an unwholesome light. The phantoms turned their faces toward the sky as the eagle passed overhead. Their deformed limbs stretched toward the sky, and Ilmarë shuddered to see that they beckoned to her. “Do not fear them, Ilmarë. We are too far away, they cannot reach us,” came Sorontur’s voice yet she paid it little heed. Ilmarë’s eyes welled with tears and she whispered, “These are not the lands he wished to create. This is not what he abandoned Valinor for.” It was a quiet whisper but not one that escaped Sorontur’s hearing. He hoped with all his being that Ilmarë was right, yet he could not bring himself to remind her that she, too, had been abandoned for the foul sights below. A flash of movement caught his eye and he flinched, pulling up and veering to the side. “Hold tight…” he said aloud this time. Ilmarë buried her fingers into Sorontur’s feathers as the eagle let out a great screeching cry that filled the night. Another cry joined his, chilling her spirit with its malice. A shadow swept past and Ilmarë ducked aside. She heard metal slice through the air above her head, stirring her hair as it passed. Sorontur faced the specter and slashed at it with his great talons. Another cry rang out, this one in pain; the eagle had found his mark. The shadow flitted away and Sorontur veered toward their attacker as it came around. The thing threw out its wings to slow its flight and Ilmarë recoiled in disgust to see it was a woman. A woman of sorts, that is…feathered wings spread out from her body and iron claws glinted at the tips. It bore a woman’s body and head, but a tangled black mat of hair covered whatever features the face had. Only the eyes burned red in the gloom. Sorontur watched the creature’s blood fall and strike the black earth below, hissing and smoking. He mocked the thing with a triumphant cry and its mouth opened to reveal rows of razor teeth. With a scream, it flew at them again and Sorontur prepared for another attack. A white light burst from Ilmarë’s hands, now extended toward the sky. The air filled with an acrid smell and she spread her arms wide as the light arced back and forth between her palms, crackling loudly. She drew back and prepared to fling the bolts but her target was suddenly knocked across the sky as though struck by some unseen fist. The vampire cried out in pain and frustration and made another determined drive to reach Ilmarë. A roar shook the forest accompanied by another invisible blow, striking from the shadows, flinging the vampire across the sky. Flames of light exploded from the air and agonized screams trailed behind the thing as it disappeared into the night. Sorontur flew slowly and cautiously as he and Ilmarë searched the sky. But no further threat came to them - only a voice from the night. “You may pass to the tower unhindered. Nothing will harm you.” Ilmarë’s hands immediately fell to her side and the white light vanished. Many things had changed over the years but the caressing sound of his voice was not among them. A cloak of protective warmth fell around her and her fear faded, yet her apprehension did not. The folds of that cloak did not rest well on Sorontur’s shoulders and he resumed his speedy flight. “He promises us safe passage, yet I will remain wary until we reach the tower. In fact, I will remain wary until this place is far behind us,” he said. Ilmarë offered no comment and remained wary as well. Despite the protection they had been given, she grew more anxious with each passing moment. They flew further into the forest and Ilmarë saw terrible things…things that slithered along the ground; things that weaved their way through the gnarled branches of the trees, springing from one tree to the next; things that fell upon one another, ripping and shredding the pallid flesh of their kin for there were no innocents nearby to expend their lust and hatred upon… A tower came into view, hewn of unfinished stone as dark and forbidding as its surroundings. It sat alone in a clearing; no trees or phantoms surrounded it, only the dead, grey lands. Here was the black heart of this place and Ilmarë could feel the evil there, pulsing with each beat of that forsaken heart, coursing fresh hate and malice through the veins spreading out into the forest. On the uppermost floor of the tower an enormous balcony had been carved from the stone. The tower doors stood open and light spilled from them, the only bright mark in the gloom. Sorontur swooped down to the balcony and landed silently. Ilmarë slid from his back and dropped to the stone floor. The dark evil filling the forest was not here. It stood as an island of calm amidst the sea of terror, yet Ilmarë’s spirit quailed as she forced herself to move toward the open doors. Sorontur folded his wings against his body and walked behind her, fully intending to at least put his head in the doorway should his body not fit. Ilmarë held up a hand and spoke aloud and even her melodic voice rang hollow in the stillness. “No, Sorontur, wait here,” she said and his head bobbed up and down in agitation. Ilmarë saw he was set to argue with her and she shook her head. “ I know you wish to look after me, but this I must do alone.” He heard the firm tone of Ilmarë’s voice and knew she was right. Ilmarë must see to this task. “Very well. Call out if you have need of me. I will be here, waiting,” he said, and with that, Sorontur hopped onto the balcony’s ledge and perched, facing the forest. Ilmarë crossed the wide balcony to the curtains covering the doorway. She pushed the thin fabric aside and entered the tower. Once inside she came to an abrupt halt, completely unprepared for what she saw. She had been steeling herself against what monstrosities would await. Yet now she saw that the interior of this room did not differ much from her home or any other on Eressëa. Carpets covered the polished stone floor, well-made furniture was placed throughout the room, and many lanterns filled the room with warm light. A door stood open on the far side of the room and beyond it was obviously a bedroom with a large bed and rich tapestries covering the walls. “Close the doors behind you.” Ilmarë spun around to look for the source of the voice. She saw no one, but did as she was told. Through the filmy curtains she watched Sorontur’s immobile form as she swung the doors shut, the heavy wood hiding the eagle from her sight. The click of the latch as it closed sent a shock of realization through Ilmarë; she was alone. No, not alone, said the whisper of fabric on the floor behind her and the presence filling the room. “Come inside. You did not journey this far to stand upon the threshold,” the deep voice spoke again and Ilmarë found the source this time. A robed figure emerged from a darkened doorway and she watched him cross the room in silence to take a seat. The chair he chose easily accommodated the tall form and he eased himself onto the dark wood with a grace that did not match his powerful build. His face was lost among the folds of the crimson hood of his robe. Only his hands were visible where they gripped the arms of the chair – large hands, well formed with long tapered fingers. Hands capable of creating great things and giving untold pleasures, and hands capable of unspeakable deeds and cruel acts... Ilmarë knew those hands. “Well, well…it seems the impossible is possible after all. You now stand with me in the lands of Middle-earth – a thing you vehemently swore would never come to pass, just before you deemed me worthless and cast me aside,” he said in a voice which soothed her even as his accusations stung. The effect his voice had on Ilmarë was also among the things that had not changed, even when it spoke scathing taunts. Clearly his opinion of her had not changed either. She had assumed that after all this time his presence would not affect her, and it had been a foolish assumption on her behalf. Despite all that had come to pass, she was drawn to him - as she had been for almost as far as her memories stretched…since times before these lands or even Arda itself existed. The accounts of his cruelty and malice were no secret to her, but for her that being existed only in the tales others told of him. Her memories were of a being filled with hopes and aspirations, skilled in all manner of things and readily lent help to those who required it. One who had looked to Aulë as dearly as a son would look to a father, and a being who had proclaimed she was the light that fulfilled him and the star he could not bear to let stray from his sight… In the end, it had been he who strayed. Now with a hope born in the desperation of emptiness and loss, she would try to bring him home. But Ilmarë did not know how much of the being she had loved remained in this stranger sitting before her yet she fought the weakness in her spirit of wanting to go to him, even now. “It was not you who was cast aside, and never did I deem you worthless.” Ilmarë said and sighed. “I did not come here to debate past wrongs with you. I come to offer you warning and a chance for redemption.” A moment’s pause was the only sign that her words had affected him. “For what reason would you come to me with these offerings? You are presumptuous to think I would care to hear them.” “If you wish it, I will leave and bother you no more,” Ilmarë said as she moved toward the door. Yet her eyes did not miss the pensive movement he made, as though he would rise. She did not need words to know that he wanted her to stay and that her presence affected him as well. He resumed his nonchalant bearing with a wave of his hand. “I will listen to your warnings. They must be dire, indeed, for one so pure and faultless to sully herself by coming to speak to such a vile being,” he said in a voice filled with disdain. Now knowing his sarcasm to be false, Ilmarë ignored it and said, “Do you know the prophecy of the one who will come to Aman in a time unseen? The last hope of Elves and Men?” “I have heard of this, yes…” he said and paused for a moment, “…and what has that to do with me?” “What you have not heard is that the name of this messenger has been known to the Council of the Valar. They wait to see if the one named Eärendil will reach the shores of Valinor,” Ilmarë said. Another moment’s pause told of his surprise at this revelation. “Eärendil?” he asked. “The Half-Elven offspring of Gondolin?” “Yes, the same,” she answered him with a nod. “He is at sea, searching for Valinor. Eönwë believes the mariner comes to ask for the Valar’s aid against Morgoth, and he says they will give it to him. There will be a war and those of Valinor will not rest until Morgoth is defeated.” Ilmarë paused and he waited, impassive as he turned these revelations over in his mind. Clearly she had more to tell and he had no response as of yet. Her hand strayed into her hair and began the absent, nervous twisting. He shifted in his chair when he saw this, at last realizing she was frightened of him. Finally, her hurried words spilled out, like a child’s confession. “Morgoth’s form will be executed and his spirit cast into the Void…and the same will be done with you. No pardon will be offered to you. Eönwë has said he will see to this.” The weight of the words hung silent in the air but he still showed no outward sign of the shock he felt as he said, “If no pardon is to be offered, then why were you sent?” Ilmarë hesitated, knowing what needed to be said would be so much more difficult than what had already been said. She looked up toward the lights hanging from the high ceiling above her. Abandoning the twisting of her hair, she folded her arms, one over the other, wrapping herself in a tight embrace. Now he would know her part in it and the thought that he would turn her away frightened her more than anything else had on this secretive journey. “I was not sent,” she said at last, “when Eönwë told me of this, I left Valinor in secret to find you. Sorontur helped me out of friendship…for both you and I.” He leaned forward, ready to rise, and Ilmarë rushed toward him, thinking his intention was to leave now that he knew she had acted alone. She knew he was still angry with her for denying him and she would humble herself if it would make him listen. Kneeling before his chair, she held her hands out to him as she pleaded. “Abandon Morgoth…” she said, looking to his face still lost in the shadows of the hood, “renounce your allegiance to him and leave Beleriand. You cannot be here when the hosts of Valinor come. Go as far from here as you can…to the empty lands deep in the south, and stay hidden until Morgoth is destroyed. Give the Valar proof that you are worthy of a pardon.” He sat poised on the edge of the chair and though she could not see his face, Ilmarë knew he watched her. His voice was cold as he said, “Cowardice is not proof that one is worthy of a pardon.” “No…it is not cowardice they will see, but fidelity,” she said, still holding her hands out to him, but now in an attempt to reason. “None outside the Council of the Valar know what I have told you of Eärendil and the plans of war. You could take this knowledge to Morgoth and warn him, if your allegiance to him is still true. But I do not believe it is. When the war is finished, I will tell Manwë what I have done, offer him irrefutable proof that you had the opportunity to betray Valinor, yet did not.” She bowed her head to him and said, “Please, do not let your anger with me cause you to make a choice that cannot be undone.” His hands gripped the arms of the chair, so tightly that Ilmarë heard the wood crack. “I have already made choices of that nature.” His voice became demanding as he said, “You did not answer my earlier question. Why did you come here to offer me this? I could kill Sorontur - we both know I am more powerful than the both of you. I could take you prisoner… deliver you to Melkor, along with what you have told me of Valinor’s plans for war. I would be given a substantial reward for such loyalty.” Ilmarë’s head came up and tears rolled from her eyes as they filled with hurt…and fear. The possibility of his betrayal had not been considered, so certain had she been of his willingness to return. “I did not think…” she whispered. He pushed himself out of the chair and his tense body rose to full height. His angry voice seemed to shake the very walls. “Then what did you think, Melinárë? Why would you put yourself in danger for my sake? Why did you come?” She clenched her fists and glared up at him. Her tears continued to spill but she returned his shouts of anger, saying, “Because I refused to believe that you wished to stay in Morgoth’s service. Enough time has passed for you to have seen through his false promises, and I thought that given the chance, you would wish to return home.” His shoulders slumped and he turned away as he said, “Valinor is not my home any longer. Home welcomes and there are none there who welcome me.” She rose to her feet and held her hands out again. “I would welcome you.” Ilmarë summoned her courage and stepped closer to him. “Valinor does not have to be your home. You could come to Eressëa…with me. It is my home now. Before today, I had not returned to Valinor since the death of the Trees.” The hem of his robe flared out as he whirled around and took angry strides toward her. “Why? You swore you would never leave it. Or was it merely that you would not leave it for me?” Ilmarë retreated in the face of his anger, but then stood firm and her voice rose again. “I did leave it for you. Yavanna branded me as a spy of Morgoth when the Trees were destroyed… because I would never condemn you like the others did. She was relentless in her anger for me and I fled. Without you, there was nothing for me in Valinor except grief and loneliness.” He stopped suddenly and his quiet betrayed nothing. In a quiet voice he said, “What of Eönwë and Varda? Manwë?” She took a hesitant step toward him and shook her head. “None of them ease my pain.” Ilmarë could sense his hesitation and doubt; now tears of relief spilled from her eyes, for she knew she had been correct. He did wish to return. A rash impulse gripped her. She risked moving close enough that she could almost touch him and voiced her impetuous mind. “If you do this, if you leave Beleriand and renounce Morgoth, and still the Valar refuse you pardon…I will do what you asked of me. I will leave Aman and come to Middle-earth with you. We will find some distant land and leave everything behind…nothing will matter but that we are together.” He did not move – afraid to breathe, for the flame of hope stirring within him was faint enough that a breath might extinguish it. “And what of the rest, Melinárë…” he said, his voice almost a whisper, “what of the pleas I made to you so many times throughout our years together?” Ilmarë was reluctant to answer. Her hand rose before her will could halt it, reaching out to push the hood from his head and allow her a glimpse of his face. Her courage wavered and she pulled her hand back quickly to press it against her chest. “I will give you anything you ask for…I have paid dearly for my rejection of you and I wish to pay for it no more,” she said. He closed the distance between them and reached for Ilmarë, impatient to touch her. She watched him with a growing smile until he suddenly halted and withdrew his hands. Though he was near, Ilmarë still could not see his face in the shadows of the hood yet she could feel the heat from his form and spirit. She reached for him and he held out his hands to ward her off. “I fear to touch you,” he told her, “I do not wish to taint you with the curse of evil I have brought upon myself. I do not know if I will ever be free of it. I cannot accept what you offer; I cannot let you risk yourself for my sake. Eönwë is right. There should be no pardon for me. The foul servant should be thrust into the Void with his master,” he said in a voice filled with self-loathing and disgust. Ilmarë could stand the distance between them no longer and she rushed toward him, taking his outstretched hands and pressing them to her cheeks even as he tried to pull away. Once her skin was beneath his hands what resistance he had was fleeting; his fingers tightened on her face, eagerly touching her. Tears ran down the back of his hand as Ilmarë pressed her face into his palm. “Rušurayan…” she said through her tears, “I will not be parted from you again. If you face your punishment then I will follow you. I would rather face the Void at your side than be without you again.” “Do not even speak such a thing, Melinárë…” he chastised her but the darkness in his spirit lifted to hear those words and to know his mistakes had not cost him the one he loved above all else. He gazed down at Ilmarë; she wore the same beautiful form as when he last saw her, and to him it was but a trace of the beauty he perceived in her spirit. Seeing her tears, he knew his Melinárë must be told the truth of his mistakes before she made such a sacrifice. “Do not open your eyes,” he said as he raised his hand. He pulled away the velvet hood, intending to allow Ilmarë to look at him but the temptation of her beautiful, waiting face was too great. In an instant, his lips were opening against hers, his tongue making no questing overtures before filling her mouth with its fierce and desperate kiss. Ilmarë was equally unrestrained and her lips and tongue showed no reserve as the years fell away, her fervent love for him consuming her once more. Her spirit reached out to meet his but he could not yet allow that pleasure. He enjoyed the taste and feel of her mouth even as he raised her hand and placed it on his shoulder, trying to suppress the dread he felt. Ilmarë eagerly ran her hand across the broad expanse of shoulder and up into the length of his hair. Not even his roaming hands and demanding mouth could distract her from the pleasure of touching his form again. Her hand ran through the soft threads of his hair and up to his face but when her fingers met his cheek she gasped. The skin that had once been soft beneath her hands was now a mass of ridges and shallow depressions. She jerked her head away and his hair caught her eye first, still the deep burnished red she remembered, and then her gaze fixed on his. All else faded against the joy of looking into his eyes once more and Ilmarë saw nothing but their brown depths. She slowly noticed the anxious way he studied her. When the rest of his face came into focus, her eyes filled with tears again. “Oh…no, no…who has done this to you?” Ilmarë said, her hands shaking as they touched his face and the once-handsome features now covered by scars. “Melkor does not tolerate disobedience in his servants,” he said and his voice offered no sign of how much that admission had cost him. Her own face marred with lines of anguish, Ilmarë waved her hand in a commanding gesture above his chest and the top of his robe fell open. She pushed the edges of the robe apart, exposing more skin and finding more marks, each discovery increasing the pain on her face. Scars now covered his chest and shoulders. Her fingers trembled along the lines of healed gashes, pocked depressions of old burns, and the roughened areas where the flesh had been stripped away. She did not want to think of the ways in which these injuries had been done and she shook her head to deny the images. An anguished gasp escaped her when she saw his neck. Her hands covered the skin that had been brutally ripped and torn and she began to weep in earnest. “No, Melinárë, do not cry,” he said and gathered her against him. “Do not cry for what I brought upon myself with my selfish choices…and you should cry least of all for the scars given to me by Huan. The Hound of Valinor defeated me but he saved me as well in his own way…he and Lúthien.” “Lúthien…Melian’s daughter? I do not understand…” she said. Her tears still dampened the skin of his chest but they had slowed. “Nor did I understand at the time,” he said, gently stroking her hair, “but understanding came to me at last during my solitude here. Come…sit with me and I will tell you.” He led her to his chair and tried to seat her in the one beside it. Ilmarë shook her head, instead motioning for him to sit. When he did, she climbed onto his lap and buried her head against his shoulder, still running her hands over his face as though she could heal the old scars. He tightened his arms around her and drew a deep breath. “I will not tell you again of the reasons I left Valinor, for I have already caused you too much pain with them. But I will tell you that now I am thankful you denied me,” he said, his arms tightening around her. “Through the cloud of my pride and vanity, I could not see that Melkor’s promises were all false. He promised me freedom and happiness, and perhaps he meant it to be that way at one time…or perhaps they were always lies. I do not know anymore.” He rested his head against Ilmarë’s, taking comfort in her presence and she placed her arms around him. “After I came to Middle-earth to serve Melkor openly, I was shown how false his words were, but it was too late. He availed himself of every opportunity to tell me that I could never return to Valinor, that he was my master and the only one who would welcome me. When I arrived at Angband, his first lesson for me was that fear was our strongest weapon, but for fear to be effective there must first be something to fear. Then he showed me his works – the creatures he twisted beneath his hands, the lands he polluted…He told me of his plans for greater horrors, but they were discordant…with no sense of organization. That was the task he gave me - to take his ideas and make them productive. I refused. And so Melkor taught me my second lesson by giving me something to fear.” A shudder ran through his form and Ilmarë raised her head. He refused to look at her, closing his eyes as his scarred face tightened. He had not realized the tale would be so difficult to tell. For many years now he had been surrounded with evil – the evil of those around him as well as his own. He had taken pride in how others feared him and at how great his evil had become. Many had been ordered to their deaths by his words and had spoken them without hesitation. Yet now he suffered each moment of this confession. That mere words could bring him to this when nothing else had made little sense to his mind. But he continued with them, nonetheless. “Any refusal I made was met with torture, but it went beyond damage to my form. The wounds he inflicted upon my spirit were the worst to endure. I did not know such pain was possible… My refusals lessened, until I ceased to refuse at all. There is a point of agony when the pain of others becomes insignificant compared to your own.” His jaw clenched and he faced her now with an angry glare. Though his anger was not for her, his words were stern and hard. “I made that choice willingly, Melinárë, remember that,” he said looking into her eyes. “My anger consumed me when I was forced to leave Valinor without you. Melkor’s torture hastened my decision, but I have little doubt I would have bowed to his wishes. Perhaps I made my refusals to ensure I would be punished and could then have another to blame for my actions. I was filled with hatred and wanted nothing more than to punish you and all the others in Valinor. How I went about it was of little consequence to me. I did as Melkor wanted; I helped create his armies of foul creatures and I dealt pain and suffering to all. I thought forcing others to share in my pain would ease it in some way, but it only served to make the pain worse and so I lashed out all the harder. I have never taken life or done injury with my own hands yet they are not bloodless. Many have died terrible deaths by my order and I have willingly watched more suffering than you can imagine. Well did I earn the names of Sauron, and of Gorthaur the Cruel, and well did I earn the fear and revulsion accorded to those names. I have done many evil things.” His body tensed and stiffened beneath her hands and in his face she saw that he waited for her to berate him or be repulsed. But she knew she would do neither. In a soft voice she said, “Your deeds are well known to me…they have always been. I cannot say they are of no matter to me, but they are not enough to keep me from you if your repentance is true and you have turned from that path.” He fought his tears, forcing them back down - not out of shame for weeping but because his story was not yet finished and he did not want pity to affect Ilmarë’s decision. He shook his head and sighed. “I did not turn from that path – I was pushed from it by another. Huan bested me in battle and as I lay there with his teeth buried in my throat, my fear overwhelmed me. Whether I died or whether I fled this form, I would be returned to Melkor as are the spirits of all who serve him. Some of his servants were given measures of his power to make them stronger but Melkor wished to see me weaker, that his control of me would be that much greater. He took powers from me, among them my ability to create a new form. He bound me in this one so I would wear the reminders of my torture on this flesh. Lúthien read my fear and the cause of it. She saw what punishment I would face for my failure and showed me mercy. Where I would have taken her to Melkor as a prisoner to suffer, she showed me kindness I did not deserve - something I had not known since I abandoned you. I surrendered Tol Sirion in return for my freedom and fled to this place. Its borders have protected me and even after I leave, they should hold long enough that I will be far away before any realize I am gone.” Ilmarë tried to quell her rising excitement until she was certain she had not misheard him or mistaken the meaning of his words. “Then you will do what I asked? You will renounce your service to Morgoth and leave?” He cradled her face with his hands and shook his head as he said, “Do you not yet understand, Melinárë? I have already abandoned my service to him. I came here for it was the one place I could hide from his wrath. Melkor will not leave Angband now; he fears the destruction of his form. His powers are gone and those he sends to capture me refuse to enter the forest. Thuringwethil, whom you saw…she will fly over the forest to spy, but she dares not land or approach the tower.” He frowned and said, “Shame and loneliness are willing companions to those who invite them. They have visited me many times in my isolation here and have taught me many things. I wished to find some way out of this dank grave I made for myself and tonight you appear and lower a rope to me. I am not deserving of it, yet I will take it, for I am empty without you. I wish only to be with you, Melinárë, whether it be in Valinor, Eressëa, Middle-earth…I do not care.” Tears rolled down Ilmarë’s face again, resolving her dilemma of being unsure whether to laugh or weep. Her mind seemed incapable of comprehending that the words she longed for had at last been said. Rušurayan had chosen her above all else and her loneliness would end. He understood what she felt, for he felt it as well – the overwhelming moment after achieving something long desired, when all the hopes and fears that were locked away and denied come spilling out, flooding the senses with painful relief. His kiss was meant to soothe and reassure but to touch her lips did away with all restraint. With a moan, Ilmarë accepted his tongue again and his ravishing force soothed her tears far beyond what any gentle kiss could. She matched his efforts and her need was driven mercilessly by the power of all her centuries alone when she had thought of little else but him. His hands roamed her form and haste roughened his touch. In all their time he had touched no other and she had been touched by none but him - it was not allowed among the Ainur once two had been joined. Now their spirits and their forms craved release. Her hands swept down to push his robe apart and reach inside. His form tensed and then arched toward Ilmarë as her hands proved she had not forgotten what pleased him. He surrendered his hold on her mouth and rested his head against the back of the chair, closing his eyes as her fingers continued their teasing work. Soon it became too much for him to stand. His eyes snapped open to find her watching him, as he had known she would be. He reached into her hair and pulled her face down to his, stopping when their lips were near. “You blanket me like a host of stars. Share your light with me, that I may hold it close when you leave and the darkness returns.” The whispered words brushed against her mouth and the aching need of her form was nothing compared to her spirit’s need of him. She barely managed a breathless “yes”, but it was the word he waited to hear. He clasped Ilmarë tightly and stood, lifting her from the ground. Her lips took up an assault of his shoulders and chest as he carried her across the room, and he decided that the bedroom was unreasonably far away. He had barely managed half the distance of the room when her lips and tongue pushed his need for her beyond any control. His legs met with a sofa next to the wall and he collapsed onto it, pulling Ilmarë with him. This was not the slow and gentle pleasure they had taken in one another on the green slopes of Almaren or the hidden coves of Valinor; this was the frenzied and desperate act of beings who had been denied their pleasure for too long. He bit out a single word and rid them of their coverings of burdensome fabric. As it fell away, he grasped the hips of the beautiful form he had been taunted with in dreams. He lifted Ilmarë above what her fingers had teased to an agonizing, swollen state and brought her down upon him. Ilmarë cried out as the length of his form entered the depth of hers. She had pushed his control purposefully, wanting to see how great his need for her was and now as he filled her, the need for him dominated her. Her spirit reached out and wrapped itself around the heat of Rušurayan’s spirit. She closed her eyes and her mind took in the sight of his raging flame, and she clutched his shoulders as his solid flesh shook her form. He saw the clear light of her spirit above him, surrounding him and adding to the pleasure he took in driving himself into her. Her hips began to move with his hands, giving added force to his efforts. Her fingers dug into his skin and he thrust against her with increasing momentum until she threw her head back and called out his name. With a cry, her radiance burst into many points of light. They floated down and mingled with his mounting fire. Neither his spirit nor his form could hold the sensation rising within him. Through the haze of satisfaction, Ilmarë felt his flesh thrust hard into her and saw his flame explode around her. The blaze of his spirit mixed with the white shimmer of hers and her form fell against him, spent and fulfilled. His arms encircled her and she rested her head on his chest as it rose and fell. With eyes still closed, they both watched the lights of their spirits part. His flame carried with it the sheen of glittering white lights and her radiance bore the hint of a fire’s glow. He was truly blanketed by her now, with her form sitting atop his and the length of her hair pooling around him and spilling down his legs. He heard her sigh and felt her relax against him. As he kissed the top of her head, he whispered, “My love for you has never ended, Melinárë, and it never shall.” Had her sense of contentment not been so strong, her tears would have started anew to hear those soft words. She turned her head to press a kiss on his chest and she said, “Nor will mine for you, Rušurayan.” He looked down at their forms still joined together and frowned as he ran his hands along her smooth skin. “I am sorry you must see me this way. When my powers are returned to me, I will make a new form…one that will be pleasing to look upon.” Ilmarë sat up and mimicked his frown as her hand brushed his mangled skin. “Have you so little faith in me? Has my coming here proved nothing to you? My love is for the spirit that resides within, not the form which covers it. Yet I agree that you should make a new form. I do not want you to bear these marks of pain.” She could see the regret in his eyes as he ran his fingers across her cheek. “Perhaps it would be better if I wore them, to remind me of my pride and folly.” “No, we should look to what is ahead of us and leave the rest behind. What has already been done cannot be changed.” “Yes…that is what I fear…” Ilmarë put her fingers to his lips and shook her head. “Rušurayan…that is not what I meant. We have so little time together before we must be parted again. I do not wish to spend it lamenting.” “Then spend it lying next to me and talking, as we used to. I have missed that.” He slid from under her and stretched out along the sofa, pulling her down beside him. Once she was nestled firmly against him, with her head on his shoulder and his arms around her, he said, “Tell me of your home on Eressëa, so I will not feel like such a stranger when I join you there.” She did not point out that his return was still only a possibility. Ilmarë knew he was all too aware of that fact, but did not speak of it for her sake. So she told him what he wished to know, beginning with the harbor of Avallónë and allowing the images to drift from her mind to his as she spoke. The hours passed and they both knew she must go. He held her close for a moment longer, to feel her skin against his one more time before the sensation became no more than a memory. “I do not want you to leave but you must if you do not wish anyone to know of your absence. Eönwë and Manwë will notice before long, for I doubt their watchfulness of you has changed. And Sorontur has been waiting very patiently.” “He is an eagle, that is what they do – they watch and wait. And that is what Manwë does as well, so it is best if I return before they find me gone from Aman.” They rose; Ilmarë spoke softly, and the discarded fabric covered their forms again. Rušurayan guided her back to the door, and as they drew closer to the balcony doors, Ilmarë’s anxious feeling became more pressing. When he reached for the door latches she grabbed his hands and stopped him. “Now that I am faced with leaving you, I do not wish to go. I love you, Rušurayan…I cannot bear the thought of being away from you again…of leaving you here alone. I will stay and send Sorontur back – we can leave for the southern lands together. After Morgoth is destroyed I will go to Manwë and ask him to grant you pardon. If he does not, then I will return to you and we will leave Valinor behind.” She was satisfied with that plan of action and was stricken to see that he was not. He touched her face and said, “Melinárë…to let you leave wounds me with a pain you cannot imagine, but I will not keep you in this place of evil. You cannot stay with me. Given the chance, Melkor would harm you to punish me, and that is a thought I cannot bear. I want to know you are somewhere safe, and Valinor is the safest place for you now. It will not be long until we are together again, not compared to the years we have already waited.” He found her lips one last time – a gentle, searching kiss that brought tears to her eyes. “Though my actions have not always proven it, I love you, Melinárë. Never forget that.” And he opened the door before either of them could change their mind again. The light from the open doorway reflected off Sorontur’s copper feathers and he leapt from the railing to cross the balcony. He settled his body against the ground and stretched out his wing. “We must hurry,” Sorontur said to Ilmarë. “ If we do not return soon, our absence will be noticed… particularly yours.” Ilmarë could not force herself to move from the warm circle of Rušurayan’s arms, but she felt him give her a gentle push. She walked away, not trusting herself to look back until she was seated on Sorontur’s back. Rušurayan had walked out onto the balcony and was looking up at the eagle. “Thank you for bringing her to me, Sorontur. It is a kindness I can never repay.” He had not drawn the hood up again and Sorontur cocked his head as he studied the scarred face. The eagle remained impassive and Ilmarë began to fear that he would not respond. But at last Sorontur spoke, saying, “Prove that you are worthy of the sacrifice made for you here tonight, and I will consider the debt repaid. I have done this out of friendship…for you both.” Rušurayan nodded. “This sacrifice will not be in vain. Nonetheless, I will be eternally indebted to you…my friend.” Sorontur readied for flight but paused to say, “Make certain you are not here when we return for Morgoth. Death will be swift and painful for those who follow him and if you should be among them, I will show no mercy…my friend.” With that, the eagle rose into the air and flew across the forest at great speed. Ilmarë watched the lone figure on the tower balcony until distance obscured her sight and she could see him no more. The light of the stars was still bright overhead as she studied them and tried to think of the best way to make Manwë and Varda understand what she had done. At last she concluded that there was no way to make them understand what she was prepared to do for Rušurayan. Likely she would have to leave Valinor and everything there behind for him. As she pondered this, it occurred to her that he had agreed to do as she asked only after making certain Ilmarë would concede on everything she had once denied him, and had given no concession in return. Yes, he had agreed to leave Beleriand - yet that was something that, by his own admission, he had already decided upon. She had merely given him the means by which to do it. Yet what bothered her most was that, in spite of all the joy he claimed to feel, she had not once seen a smile upon his face, and this was the thought that remained with her as Sorontur returned them to Valinor over the now-darkened seas. ~*~ NOTES: Whew! This chapter is long enough as is, so I won’t go into all the references I had planned, explaining how my idea of Sauron developed. But it is all based upon what Professor Tolkien himself said about Sauron. I’ll give a few main points and then save the rest for when Sauron resurfaces in a few chapters as Annatar. In all versions of the Silmarillion, Sauron is not heard from after his battle with Huan. There’s no mention of him until he presents himself to Eönwë after the War of Wrath is over. In many places (Letters, Morgoth’s Ring, Unfinished Tales) the professor talks about the good that still remained in Sauron when he came to Eregion and how he truly repented his deeds of the First Age and wished to redress the wrongs he had done. I think the professor did this not only to explain why the Elves trusted him in the Second Age, but also to show Sauron as another one of his characters who was a blend of both good and evil. Of course, the evil won out in Sauron. I have to assure my few readers that this isn’t going to be a ‘Sauron was really a misunderstood nice guy’ attempt. But Tolkien wanted to show that Sauron fell back into evil toward the end of the Second Age and you have to be somewhere higher to fall from. Whichever road he takes to get there, Sauron still ends up turning to evil, although he is incapable of seeing that by the Third Age.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Andreth

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: Multi-Age

Genre: Drama

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 11/08/12

Original Post: 09/18/03

Go to Veiled Light, A overview

Comments

There are no comments for this chapter. Be the first to comment!

Read all comments on this story

Comments are hidden to prevent spoilers.
Click header to view comments

Talk to Andreth

If you are a HASA member, you must login to submit a comment.

We're sorry. Only HASA members may post comments. If you would like to speak with the author, please use the "Email Author" button in the Reader Toolbox. If you would like to join HASA, click here. Membership is free.

Reader Toolbox   Log in for more tools