1. "Oh Bother!"
I have used the term 'balrogling' for a baby balrog. People have said that if you can have 'elflings' then why not have 'orclings' or 'balroglings'. Which got me thinking, why not balroglings?
Melkor cracked open his eyes and rolled onto his back, wondering what had woken him. It was early in the morning yet, and this part of Utumno was silent - even the roar of the furnaces too distant to be heard.
There was no chattering to be heard. No complaints. No squeals for attention. No screeches of pain.
They would not still be asleep surely.
The Dark Lord leapt from his bed, one foot catching in the blankets and sending him stumbling across the floor. Cursing, he regained his balance and grabbed a handful of fabric from the dirty linen pile, which happened to be closer than any of the more traditional places to store one's garments, and tore out of the room.
Mindful of his bare feet he minced his way through the treacherous path of stray model orcs, various fully functional toy weapons and some razor sharp jacks, until he reached the doorway.
An open doorway, and one leading into an empty room at that. Wringing the misfortunate shirt in his hands he briefly surveyed the room. Rumpled bedcovers on the floor, three long claw-sized scratch marks on the grey stone of the wall, feathers spilling from a ripped pillow and a fluffy head rolling under the smallest bed, it's grotesque bead grin curiously mocking. With a sharp intake of breath he turned on the spot, cleared the obstacle course of playthings in one great leap, and strode down the corridor pushing open doors as he passed.
Pausing at the top of the stairs, he tilted his head and listened. All was not well within his stronghold, he sensed. Thuds, thumps and shrieks were all matters of everyday course, but these scraping noises, splats and hushed whispers were alien to him. And then the sound to bring fear into even the Dark Lord himself:
Laughter. Not evil cackles or grim chuckles, but honest laughter. Childish laughter. The sound of small boys who had just learnt some new evil.
Such as belly-sliding across the kitchen table perhaps. . .
Thundering down the stairs, pulling his shirt on over his head as he ran, he stepped on something rather warm that immediately made a woeful noise, halfway between a squeak and a yowl.
"Nárë?" The Dark Lord stopped abruptly in his headlong flight to the kitchen, and paused next to the small thing sitting on the steps. The child was curled up, hugging his knees tightly and his wings drooping dejectedly.
Sighing, and doing his best to ignore the mental images that the noises from the kitchen were producing, Melkor sat down and placed an arm around the child's shoulders, rubbing him gently between wings. Nárë was yet young, and his spirit was not yet strong enough to make his body much more than hot to the touch.
"What bothers you, Nárë?" Melkor tipped the small head up to look at him, noticing immediately the large tears trickling down the child's leathery cheeks before vanishing into steam. Nárë gave him a reproachful look and did not answer. "I am sorry for treading on you."
Nárë shifted slightly, and finally leant his head against the Dark Lord's knees.
"Uru said that I was not big enough to fry an egg." The child took a shuddering breath in and tried to control his tears. "That I'd just make it messy."
"Now," Melkor helped the little Balrog to his feet and scratched behind the child's soft new horns. He did not desire for his Balrogs to have confidence problems. "I am sure that you can handle a frying pan. I shall help you."
Luckily, unlike most parents, he did not have to worry about his charges sustaining burns as they attempted to cook breakfast.
"Not frying pan." Nárë sniffed, "On my stomach. Raumo said I was only lukewarm."
From the way the small head was hanging, this was obviously the most shameful thing he had ever heard. But his confessor did not wait to comfort him, instead leaping down the remaining steps and rushing into the kitchen.
The largest of his Balrogs was crouched on the kitchen table, wearing an evil grin that the Dark Lord could not help feeling proud of. Two of his brothers were stretched out on the table before him, and he was on the brink of cracking an egg onto the larger one's stomach. The debris on the table, floor and ceiling assured him that this was not the first attempt.
"Uru!" Melkor bellowed, his progress towards the trio barely slowed by the clamping of something small and eggy around his right knee.
Uru looked up at him, face first registering only shock, but then breaking into a gap-fanged grin.
"Melkor!" The egg dropped out of his slippery hands, and landed with a sharp crack on the tabletop. "We were just making breakfast, look!"
Uru proudly picked up a rather tough looking fried egg.
"I made this for you!" He reached for one of the wooden platters and arranged the egg on it. "We made scrambled egg too, and omelette, only those tasted good so we ate them!"
"Thank you." Melkor simultaneously took the plate and surreptitiously disposed of it's contents in the dragon-swill tub, pushed a stool to the sink, placed Uru upon it, and prised the littlest balrog from his ankles.
The yolk that seemed to cover every inch of Gomig - as little Gothmog had dubbed himself - was drying now, and his hands seemed to stick to the child, making the large fingers holding the tiny demon seem even more awkward than usual.
"Why is there yolk on his wings?" Melkor strode to the basin to wet a cloth, ignoring the two squabbling Balroglings on the stool below him. Raumo was two years younger than Uru, and felt in necessary to compete with his brother at every opportunity. Neither answered, and with a sigh Melkor turned back to the disaster scene. "Ondo, stay on the table."
Gomig predictably shrieked and wriggled at the unwelcome cold water, and while dodging flailing limbs, gnashing milk teeth and wildly flapping wings, most of the yolk was transferred from a tiny body to Melkor's shirt.
Ignoring the high-pitched squealing, the Dark Lord tucked the tiny Balrog under his arm, and turned to his second youngest, currently crouching on the table mixing the egg yolk on his face with salty tears.
"I think you will need a bath." Melkor picked up the child by the scruff of his neck and prepared to take him upstairs. He had obviously joined in the game whole heartedly, but only had a puddle of cold egg yolk to show for his pains. Younger even than Nárë, the eggs would take weeks to cook.
"Melkor." A cross voice came from somewhere behind him.
"Did you like your egg? I made it all myself. . ." A somewhat cleaner Uru bounced across eagerly.
"I cracked it!" A querulous voice cut across his brother's.
"Meeelkor!" Someone whined, attaching themselves to the back of Melkor's shirt.
"Do not need a bath!" Ondo kicked angrily, tears already forming in his dark eyes.
"Melkie! Melkie!" Gomig tried to scramble out from under the large arm.
"You never listen to me! You do not like me!" Nárë screeched and pelted from the room, the claws on his feet scratching on the stone paving. "I hate you!"
"Nárë!" Melkor called in frustration, attempting to run after the child, but without an arm free and with the two eldest Balroglings leaping up and down in front of him, it was somewhat difficult.
"Did you not like your egg?" Hurt resonated in Uru's voice and his lip began to stiffen into a pout.
"I cracked it." Raumo scowled at his brother, butting his head against the other's chest.
"Raumo, do not do that!" Melkor placed a hand on Raumo's shoulder and pulled him away from his brother. Raumo had rather precocious horn growth, and his habit of butting against his leg for attention was no longer merely ticklish. "You might hurt Uru."
Raumo scowled and kicked sulkily at the ground. "He started it."
"I did not!" Uru looked up at Melkor for confirmation. "Did I Melkor? It was all Raumo's fault wasn't it?"
"Melkie!" Gomig wriggled ferociously and managed to free himself from the Dark Lord's grasp, and promptly fell to the floor with a thump and a squeak.
The four others fell silent, even the ever protesting Ondo, and watched in silent dread as Gomig looked up at Melkor then screwed up his eyes to the fullest extent to make space for the rapid expansion of mouth as he began to wail.
"No, Gomig, Gomig." Dismissing any thoughts he might have had about ending up any less eggy than his progeny, Melkor shifted Ondo to his hip and scooped up Gomig with his free arm, cuddling him close to his chest. Uru and Raumo looked at each other, then took advantage of their guardian being crouched down to scramble onto his back for a ride.
Wiping his hair back from his face with an eggy hand, Melkor began taking the scenic route to the bathroom, hoping that he should encounter Nárë on his path.
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.