Thorn: 1. Terror in the Darkness

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1. Terror in the Darkness

Maeglin lay unmoving on the cold stone floor, the almost-tangible darkness engulfing his body. He dared not move, for with every slight attempt, pain seared through his body, besieging his brain and reminding him of the pitiful state he was in.

He could not have said how long he had been held prisoner in the shadows. Maybe a month, maybe more. And every day, the Darkness would question him, every day the Balrog would beat him, every day he was strong. ‘But for how long?’ he would ask himself once his tormenters had left. ‘Are you going to continue like this everyday for eternity? Or just until someone else divulges the secret and He grinds you under His boot heel?’ For the son of twilight had no hope of rescue. Even if he hadn’t been locked in the heart of the Dark Lord’s stronghold, there was no one in the Hidden City who would risk their life for him, or even thing twice about his absence.

This bitter thought was the epitome of his existence—the only two people that had ever truly cared about him, his mother and his father, were dead by each other’s hands, and all others were too frightened of him to love him. That was what hurt the most. Maeglin could bear the gnawing, insatiable emptiness of hunger without end and the sharp, vicious pain. He could cope with almost drowning in his blood every day, with burning flesh being his very existence. He could handle knowing he was just barely kept alive merely to be killed once he was no longer needed. But what drove his soul to the penumbra of sanity was knowing that no one would even think twice about him once he was gone.

A cold clank of his cell door opening resounded in Maeglin’s ears, and his ebony brows furrowed in confusion. Morgoth made no sound when he walked, but Gothmog…the Balrog could be heard minutes before he arrived, as could the freezing heat of his body be felt. And yet here Morgoth was, alone and without a sound to betray his arrival.

Slowly and with great pain the Son of Twilight rose to his knees, his once-ivory skin tearing a bit as the dried blood plastering him to the floor was torn, and the blood began flowing down his chest in rivulets once more. He looked the Dark One straight in the eye, a sudden desire to scream rising in his chest. Instead, he smiled mockingly. “Alone today, I see. Did Gothmog finally weary of beating me?”

The Dark One’s bestial eyes flared in rage, making Maeglin’s smile broaden—he still kept the Dark Lord guessing, at least.

Morgoth took a deep breath, then leered wickedly. “You are too obnoxious for your own good, elfling.” The click of a metal lock closing echoed off the stone, and the Dark One turned to the orc cell-guard. “Leave us alone.” With a frightened nod the beast retired down the infinitely dark stone corridor. Once more the Foul One turned his attention to the Noldo kneeling before him.

“I’ll give you one thing,” Maeglin quipped, his voice rattling unnervingly in his dry throat. “Your servants aren’t lacking in loyalty, even if they do lack brains.”

A snarl threw itself across the Evil One’s face. “There is much yet you do not understand, Son of Twilight. Much you have yet to learn.” So saying, the Dark Lord kicked Maeglin back down, then stomped his face into the stone as he had every day before. But this time, instead of questioning him, the Evil One kicked him again, snapping at least one of the Noldo’s ribs.

Maeglin suppressed a groan of weariness and attempted to rise to his knees again. He could not guess the Dark Lord’s new game, but in his heart Maeglin began to fear Him on a new level—he knew how treacherous the Dark One’s malice could be. Then he caught the glint of steel in Morgoth’s hand. “And what is on the menu today?” the Noldo hissed, fire shooting through his chest as he tried to breathe.

Instead of an answer, Morgoth buried a dagger in Maeglin’s leg, a demonic smile mocking the elf’s pain. “Such insolence, even in the face of eternal anguish?” So saying, Morgoth jerked the still-embedded dagger down Maeglin’s thigh, forcing a cry of paroxysmal agony from the dark elf’s parched lips. Fire and pain consumed Maeglin’s body, assaulting his mind and driving out all thoughts of mother, father, and cousin. Morgoth smiled viciously in pleasure. “How young and ignorant you are Son of Eöl, how blind,” he laughed amusedly. Maeglin was in too much pain to respond. “And yet cunning and wise as well.”

This last sentence startled Maeglin, and as Morgoth withdrew the blade, he looked up at the pernicious Vala above him, shuddering unconsciously at the hatred seething in the blazing red eyes.

“Son of Twilight, you do not understand me. You may try to steal glimpses of my thought as you did those in Gondolin, but you forget that I am no Elda. My mind is revealed to no one. And yet,” the Lord of Malice added, “I chose to grant you a glimpse.”

Suddenly, instead of darkness before his eyes Maeglin saw himself—he saw himself crowned in glory, ruling Gondolin with Idril by his side, and the baby Earendil calling him father as it should have been. He saw himself commanding Balrogs larger than Gothmog, and Turgon bowing before him, pride glowing from his eyes that his sister-son had risen so high in power. Just as quick, the image was gone, the pain once more forcing itself into Maeglin’s skull.

“Foolish elfling,” Morgoth snarled, kicking him back down. “Do you not realize what power I have?” So saying, Morgoth lit a torch, mounting it on the wall, and the molten light illuminated the small cell. “What I give I can relinquish, and what I take I can restore.” A dangerous tone in the Evil One’s bestial voice caused Maeglin to tremble—such fear had never been known to him before, and he was ashamed to admit he found himself respecting this Vala who could command him with such force. “What I eviscerate I can restore life into—you Eldar give me no credit.” Maeglin felt himself being lifted into the air, yet no hands had touched him. With a subtle gesture of the Dark Lord’s shade of a hand, he was pinned to the rough ebony wall, the projections digging unmercifully into his raw back. “Do you understand, son of Eöl?”

Maeglin remained silent, trying to keep pace with him. This was a fast-moving, dangerous game, and the elf was hard pressed to outmatch the Lord of Darkness.

“What I am saying, Son of Shadows, is that I may restore you to your former beauty in the eyes of the World, for now your form has lost some of its charm, has it not?”

Maeglin didn’t even need look down at his tortured and mutilated body to know what hideousness lay there now. Long had his loss of strength plagued his thoughts, wearing him down as rain does limestone, and he dared not even look at himself for shame of the monster he appeared to be now.

Suddenly an eerie sensation permeated his body, a silver pain laced with heat, and a solid mass engulfed his now-numb legs, his muscular torso, then his face and arms. In moments it was gone again, and Maeglin blinked several times before he realized he was standing on his own two feet, and an astonished glance downward revealed his perfectly-sculpted form, lost long ago to the Balrog’s whip. All the deep-rooted scars had utterly disappeared, leaving only smooth ivory skin subtly melded over well-toned muscles. Maeglin couldn’t believe his eyes, but looked back at his tormentor again swiftly, not wishing to reveal his joy at having his body back again, perhaps even better than it was before.

“You are whole again, Son of Twilight, by my hands.” The words rang true, though Maeglin sensed some treachery lurking in it, some hidden falsehood the Dark One was not revealing to him. “And yet, you are not as whole as you once were, are you?” The words caught Maeglin by surprise, and his silver eyes darted to meet those of his tormentor’s. It was an irretrievable mistake.

The Dark Lord’s merciless gaze shone almost comfortingly, drawing Maeglin a step or two closer. It seemed a piercing heat roared from Morgoth’s presence, but it felt good against the elf’s ice-cold skin long deprived of warmth. “You are still missing something.” The words stung bitterly in Maeglin’s soul, and he understood what the Vala was referring to.

“Idril,” he murmured before he could stop himself. He instantly realized his mistake, and he drew back, his face betraying his fear. Anything and everything he had ever said, Morgoth had used against him in his torment. The elf had never once mentioned Idril, keeping her close to him as a precious jewel to cling to when Morgoth had stolen everything else from him. And yet, even when he dreamed of her, even when he saw her with his waking eyes, the sting and sardonical venom had coursed in his veins, knowing that even that gem was not rightfully his, nor ever would be.

“Aye,” Morgoth confirmed puissantly, masking his delight to draw the elf under the power of his voice. “Idril. You have faithfully loved her and no other all these years, and she still married that colt of a mortal.” Maeglin realized with shock that there was understanding in that voice, and it took an almost melodic quality as it continued to wrap him in warmth. “If she ever knew how much you loved her, she would not have shirked you so easily. The boy should be your son, and she your wife.” Maeglin hung his head in defeat, the familiar hollow in his being screaming of loneliness. Nobody cared. Not Idril, not Turgon, and if any of his followers had ever cared in addition to their desire for wealth, they were all dead. He was utterly alone. Morgoth lowered his voice, a deep tenor added to the rumbling base. “Such pain, Son of Twilight. Why do you suffer such pain? Why do you allow it to continue?”

Lost in the Dark Lord’s eyes, Maeglin’s melodic voice was barely above a whisper. “Because I cannot be rid of it.”

“You cannot be rid of it alone, Son of Eol. You cannot do it alone—for all these years you have suffered alone, in misery and silent pain, knowing the fear lurking in others’ eyes would not diminish with age or words. Watching the maiden you love marry another, bear him a child. And a mortal, nonetheless! A colt of a mortal whose only claim to the Hidden City was a useless helmet and made up warning from the Vala of the Seas that would drown a mortal as soon as look at one. And she married him with Turgon’s consent. Turgon, who vowed to love you as his own son, who promised to give you anything you wanted, and he denied your right to his daughter. At his first test of love he showed you it was all lies. Just like his promise to your mother to keep you safe. And here you are, in the heart of my stronghold, suffering more than any other Elda could bear. You are utterly alone.” A single diamond tear rolled down Maeglin’s cheek. In all his years, he had never heard the truth spoken from another’s mouth, hiding it away deep within him to consume from the inside out. And now the assault came from without as well, and with tenderness from someone so long his tormentor. “But no longer, Maeglin.”

The elf’s head jerked up at those words. What was this mighty being trying to say?

“You see how I healed your body, Son of Shadows. You feel the strength in your veins again, do you not?” Maeglin just stared dumbfoundedly. Where was this going? Morgoth suppressed a malicious laugh—the elf was taking the bait. “I can heal your soul as well, Maeglin Eolion.”

“How?” Maeglin asked desperately. If there was a way to stop this slow and painful evisceration, he wanted to know. “How could you…”

This time Morgoth did laugh, but it sounded merely amused to the Noldo’s ears, though its true tones were nothing but malice and hate—the Dark Lord’s voice had deceived him indeed. “Think about it, Shadow-Son. How did I heal your body?”

Maeglin thought hard, eager for answers. “I was pinned to the wall, and you were mocking me…”

“I was mocking you indeed. I had you pinned to the wall, completely in my control. I mocked you to put you in my power, Maeglin.” Morgoth’s eyes narrowed, hoping beyond hope this would succeed. “I need you to surrender to me, Maeglin. I need you to be completely mine.” Maeglin’s silver eyes widened as he realized what the Dark Lord wanted. “Surrender your soul, and it will be healed.”

Silence engulfed the now freezing cell, and Maeglin shivered involuntarily, wishing the almost scorching heat would return to warm his body again. Suddenly he remembered the vision Morgoth had shown him earlier—Maeglin ruling Gondolin. Only now did he realize it would be under Morgoth’s rule, serving as a steward in the Hidden City. The Hidden City, once it was conquered.

Maeglin hesitated. “And if I refuse?”

An amused smile spread itself on Morgoth’s face. “I need the location of the Hidden City. I will discover it, whether it is by your hands or someone else’s. Make no mistake about that, Maeglin.”

“That does not answer my question.” Morgoth’s eyes flared once more in indignance, and but Maeglin continued to stare at the Dark Lord unfazed. “If I refuse, what happens to me?”

“We both know you cannot be broken, Son of Twilight.” Morgoth allowed a suspenseful pause, and Maeglin took a step closer in curiosity. “But I would delight in trying.” Fear flashed in the elf’s eyes, and Morgoth’s twisted leer broadened. “And after I have the information I need, you will suffer the fate of your uncle and hang you from Thangorodrim. Only this time, no best friend will be there to hunt you down, and there will be no loving family to return to, for no one cares about you, Shadow-Son.”

Maeglin’s silver eyes screamed of pain and loneliness, and had Morgoth been susceptible to pity, the Elda’s painful gaze would have moved him to tears. Fortunately, however, he was not, and he merely glared back at him. “I will release you, and you will return to the Hidden City and your precious maiden and her husband and son, your uncle who is indifferent of you and all the elves who are terrified to look into your eyes. And you will stay there until I give you the word that it’s time. Then my armies will attack, you will assist them along with any other elf you may have the pleasure of seducing to our cause, and then you will rule the Hidden City with Idril and her son by your side.”

Maeglin barely trusted himself to speak. “And Tuor?”

“You may slay him yourself in the sacking of the City, it is not my affair.”

“And the…the emptiness?” The Elda’s voice was barely above a whisper.

Morgoth gently rested a blazing hand, resting his hand on Maeglin’s in a deceptive gesture of closeness. “Tell me where the Hidden City is, and I will fill it.”

Maeglin hung his head, a deep breath filling his lungs with the thick scent of Morgoth’s presence. There was no way he could win against this. Once more he looked up, his well-sculpted features hardening to resolute serenity.

“I’ll do it.”

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: pitya

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 1st Age

Genre: General

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 08/05/04

Original Post: 07/25/04

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