6. "When will you Grow Up?"
Once the five had been tucked firmly into their beds - extremely firmly in Raumo's case, for whom the blankets acted more as a restraint than a comfort - and threatened with the pain of death should they take it upon themselves to move, Melkor proceeded to his study, humming to himself. It was a simple little tune, composed almost entirely of triumphantly clanging chords and he often would sing it when events had been particularly pleasing. He had some quite delightful plans to work on, involving a mace, crushed ice and a captured elf. Last week had been focussed on thorn-coated flies and flesh eating leeches. It was variety such as this that made the job of the Dark Lord worthwhile.
Melkor sat down at his desk, reclined into his chair with a luxuriant sigh, and unrolled a large sheet of parchment. He had had precious little time for other plans since his family had started to grow. Not that he minded looking after his corrupted Spirits of Fire as they grew into their new physical form, but he did not wish anyone - least of all his brother - to suspect that he was becoming idle.
Melkor worked steadily for a while, drawing up sketches and annotating neatly sketched diagrams of the likely results of his experiments. While he still longed for the power to bring things of his own into being, one could still be remarkable creative when modifying the creations of others. Perfecting them as it were.
He wrote in a very neat hand in a language of his own devising, the first letter of each paragraph being of great size and adorned with flourishes of flames and small outlines of whatever new evil he was currently pondering. Today these included a great number of fully-grown and fearsome Balrogs.
He held eager anticipation for the day that his immature progeny would rise to their full power, great and terrible, a symbol of his strength and domination over these lands. Together they would bring doubt and dread to the hearts of the foolish and valiant. Together they would protect him against all that would oppose him. Soon he would be without fear.
A small and ashamed shuffling noise from the passageway drew the Dark Lord's attention away from his notes, and he looked up with an air of great irritation to find his eldest Balrogling standing rather shamefacedly in the doorway.
"Uru?" Melkor's brow furrowed slightly in a perplexed manner, and he pushed back his chair a little way to show that he had no objection to the disturbance. Of all his infants he had not expected Uru to disturb him. Raumo had always been a little demon and he had been worried that Ondo's stomach might feel less than steady after all he had consumed today. Uru though, he had fully expected to slumber peacefully until he came through to stir them. "What disturbs you?"
Moving rather hesitantly, Uru scampered across the floor and buried his face into the Dark Lord's thigh. There was a moment or two of silence as Melkor rubbed his eldest's back comfortingly, then a very worried and muffled voice muttered, "Melkor?"
"Uru?" Melkor asked patiently, one jet-black eyebrow curving upwards with an aristocratic air.
"Melkor," Uru raised his head slightly from the smooth black fabric of the Dark Lord's tunic and bit his lip anxiously, "I burnt my blankets."
"Oh?" Melkor tilted his head to one side as he looked at the child. A couple of years ago, when the Balrogling had first discovered his ability to make his little toe ignite into flames at will, he had developed a number of pyromaniac tendencies. All had thought that that stage had now passed - something that Melkor was exceedingly glad of, for Raumo had recently discovered how many creative things could be done with his left index finger and a bit of imagination, but evidently he had been mistaken. He did not think that he could manage to extinguish all the small fires that two Balroglings in the kindling phase could create at any one time. "And why did you do that?"
Uru looked down at the ground, his dark unlashed eyes filling with tears. "I... I did not mean to do it, Melkor."
The Balrogling gulped a few times, then whispered unhappily. "I never wanted to burn. I just woke up and I was on fire."
Grinning broadly and well satisfied with this development, Melkor lounged back in his seat until he noticed that Uru was close to tears and clearly convinced that there was something terribly wrong with him. Muttering reassuringly, the Dark Lord reached down and hoisted the Balrogling onto his lap for a cuddle in a manner that he had not done for a number of years. Uru was rather heavier than he remembered, and strangely although this should have made him glad, he instead felt a little bit sad.
"Do not worry, Uru. You are growing up. It is perfectly normal." Melkor frowned slightly as he wondered how best to explain things. Uru was fast approaching the change - a period of rapid growth characterised by the development of the ability to ignite himself at will, the growth a facial flame from the nostrils and ears, a deepening of the pitch of his growls and roars, and a change in character from a relatively sweet, harmless child into a brutal aggressive warrior. The Dark Lord could hardly wait - although he did hope that the process would be somewhat shorter than that of his other creatures. There was nothing quite as unpleasant as a cavern of snarling, ill-tempered and fire-breathing pre-pubescent dragons. "Your body is just learning how to make fire ready for when you are older."
"Oh." Uru frowned and gnawed on his knuckles as he thought. When they had been younger, sometimes as a special treat Melkor would take him and Raumo down to the dragon-breeding caverns and watch as the hatchlings broke free from thick-shelled eggs, and later they had held the tiny winged lizards. Baby dragons had very soft smooth scales of a charcoal grey and could only crawl about on the ground, but as they grew their hide thickened and turned bright colours characteristic of their species. Sharp little fangs would push through their gums and they would begin to hiccup up smoke rings. Even more entertainingly, their wings would grow wide and strong and they would begin to flutter and flap from crag to crag. "Shall I fly, Melkor?"
"Well, Uru. . ." The Dark Lord sucked in a cheek as he pondered this question. The youngling was the first of his Balrogs, and in truth he had no real knowledge of exactly how they would develop. "I do not know that. We shall have to wait and see. But you shall grow tall and strong, and you shall run so fast that you have no need of wings."
Uru looked curiously at him, smiling with a little a hint of excitement, but also a little surprised that his mentor had no answer for him. Throughout his life, the Dark Lord had been a constant source of knowledge, and suddenly finding that there were things that he did not know was both strange and liberating. "As big as you, Melkor?"
"Well, I do not know that either, Uru." Melkor said slowly, hoping that the answer would be no. Whilst at the moment he could flick the child aside with a hand or a foot, at this rate of growth, come a few years he would have every reason to be glad of the child's loyalty. "What do you think?"
"I think. . ." Uru pressed his lips tightly together as he thought. "I think that I shall be just exactly as big as you are, Melkor."
Grinning, Melkor nodded approvingly, but Uru's forehead had once again creased into a slight frown.
"When I am as big as you, will you still tuck me in at night?"
Although Uru had done his utmost to disguise his feelings, Melkor could detect a slight quaver of uncertainty in his voice, and on a whim he put an arm around the Balrogling's bony shoulders.
"I will if you still wish me to, Uru." The Dark Lord spoke seriously then added more brightly. "I shall always be here if you need me."
Uru nodded in satisfaction and slipped happily down to the floor when Melkor held out a hand to help him down. It was high time that he joined his brothers before they woke and complained that it was unfair that he should not have to nap whilst they did.
"So it is normal, Melkor?" Uru repeated anxiously for reassurance, clenching his fists perhaps tighter than he realised.
"Quite normal." Melkor confirmed, smiling kindly at the little Balrog. "You are just right."
Grinning in relief, Uru flung his arms briefly around the Dark Lord's knee and hurried off back to the bedroom, leaving Melkor sitting alone in his study. Although he knew that he should feel joy and triumph at this mighty step forward in his plans, he could help feeling rather alone. He had never expected it to happen so fast.
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.