5. "Mind your Manners!"
Five growing Balroglings required a fearsome amount of food on any given day, usually in the form of meat - preferably raw. A favourite treat was an animal fresh from the kill - still warm, with fur to be ripped off and eyeballs ready to be gorged out.
They had got into a routine by now, and it worked well. The kill would arrive, and Melkor would slice off his desired cut to be roasted in the fire. A few chunks would be hacked off for the two younger siblings, along with a couple of ribs for them to chew on to get them used to meat off the bone. The rest of the carcass was a free-for-all between the three eldest boys, and it was not unusual to have a massacred limb fly into your lap as it slipped from blood-soaked arguing hands.
Sometimes it could be a trial to get little Gomig to eat, but usually if he was appointed the important roll of honorary dragon, and the spoonfuls of finely chopped meat were conveyed to his mouth in the bobbing motion of small cuddly animals, most of the meal would end up inside the child. His brother would doubtlessly find the words, "Open wide, here comes another fluffy little bunny," a little disturbing, but Melkor was unperturbed. When you had laughed at fangs created by stuffing the ends of two ribs into your mouth, or enthused over the discovery that jamming miscellaneous kitchen implements into various parts of the carcass would make it twitch, not much could surprise you.
So when five little Balrogs settled down around something dead and unidentifiable that lunchtime, little attention was paid as three pairs of hands grabbed and tore at the meat accompanied with a variety of snarls and hisses. But there was one courtesy that he would always insist on.
"Boys." Melkor said severely, and paused with his knife hovering over his plate. "Haven't we forgotten something?"
Raumo and Nárë exchanged mystified looks, their eyes large over their bloody mouthfuls, small fingers not loosening their grip on the slippery bones.
"Uru?" Melkor looked seriously at his eldest. Uru put down his joint and licked stray trails of blood from his fingertips as he thought.
There was no point asking the little ones. Gomig had already managed to deposit more of his meal on the floor, his front and behind his ears than would ever reach his mouth. Ondo had filled his mouth with the vast majority of his portion and would chew steadily at it for the next half- hour without speaking; this being the most effective method he had found for deterring those who attempted to steal his portion.
"The intestines?" Uru poked at the animal's entrails. Normally they kept them for desert, but perhaps with this beast it was traditional to enjoy the whole animal at once.
"No." Melkor said earnestly, then his face lit up with a wicked grin. "Surely we should thank those who are responsible for this feast..."
"Yes." Uru said eagerly, picking some sinew from between his teeth. "That is good manners isn't it Melkor."
Melkor smiled at the child and raised a forkful of meat to the west. Five little balrogs followed his example, blood and small pieces of flesh smeared around their mouths and dripping from their chins.
"Thank you, Yavanna." The Dark Lord said with a curious glint in his eye, smiling approvingly as various bits of animal were waved to the west and five shrill voices chorused their thanks.
"Yavanna makes very tasty animals." Uru said conversationally, using his front fangs to tear a long strip of meat from the animal's leg. "Nice and juicy."
Melkor opened his mouth to respond, only to be interrupted by Raumo's shrill voice.
"Mine is juicier. Once I found a little tube and sucked the blood out."
"You did not." Uru scowled viciously at his brother. He had never found such a straw. "Melkor, there is no such thing is there!"
"There is! There is!" Raumo crowed, bouncing in his seat. "Uru's wrong isn't he Melkor!"
"I am not wrong!" Uru asserted violently then turned pleading eyes to his mentor. "Am I Melkor?"
"Melkie!" Gomig burst out, tiny bits of meat sputtering from his open mouth as he spoke. "Melkie Welkie!"
The littlest Balrog waved his spoon around, sending the piece of meat he had been conveying to his mouth on collision course with Melkor's forehead.
"Maybe..." Nárë said quietly, almost drowned out by the other's chattering and Melkor's curse as he wiped his face, "maybe Yavanna put them in there to make them more fun to eat."
The other boys ignored him. Uru and Raumo were now involved in a vicious tug-of-war over the remains of the carcass. Ondo was trying to keep up with his brothers and was grasping desperately at the animal's ribs, his efforts barely noticed by his snarling older siblings. Gomig continued attempting to feed himself, his nose and his stool whilst jabbering away in a nonsensical language.
Seeing his middle monster's face fall, Melkor hurriedly swallowed his mouthful and spoke loudly, his voice booming over the screeches of the little ones.
"Perhaps she did, Nárë." Melkor smiled at the child and was rewarded by a huge grin. "She would like to see others happy."
"See! See!" Raumo crowed at the top of his voice. "See Uru! See! You're wrong! Wrong!"
"I am not!" Uru screamed, yanking the carcass from his brother's hands. "Am I! Am I Melkor?"
"Oh yes you are!" Raumo smirked and took a huge bite of meat. "You're wrong."
Uru turned to Melkor with a pleading look of desperation, his eyes begging his mentor for him to be in the right.
"There is no such thing, is there Melkor?" Uru asked quietly, biting his lower lip with anxiety as he awaited the answer.
"Yes there is!" Raumo drummed his fists on the table in a victory tattoo. "There is! There is!"
Melkor finished his mouthful of roasted meat and looked seriously at his eldest Balrog.
"There is such thing, I'm afraid." Melkor's heart wrenched as Uru's confidence collapsed, and he hunched his shoulders looking down at his plate. Raumo bounced triumphantly, punching a fist in the air. "But they are called veins, not tubes."
This did little to cheer the eldest Balrog and he barely touched the rest of his meal - even when Melkor tried to tempt him with the wiggliest bit of intestines. The moment that the Dark Lord stood up, he dashed away, leaving his stool to crash to the ground behind him.
"Bad loser!" Raumo sneered after him and when he got no response, rummaged through the debris of bones and tendons to find a thin strip of sinew with which he could clean between his teeth. The Dark Lord could be incredibly fastidious when it came to matters of personal hygiene.
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.