18. Chapter Eighteen
Running through the stone corridors of his home, he felt exhilarated and free. He slowed down a little, as a pang of guilt assaulted him for where he was about to go. He had promised. Mithedhel wrinkled his brow petulantly in indecision for a moment, and although he didn’t know it, he looked more like his uruk hai parent then than at any other time. He had promised.
Every time Mithedhel ran away he was sure that it would be the last time. His father was always angry with him, and scolded him harshly. But Maglor was always so hurt and upset when he found him out. Mithedhel really meant the promise Maglor made him give. The promise that he wouldn’t run away. Every time he meant it. At those times he didn’t know why he had run. But then despite wanting to be good, and despite wanting Maglor to teach him and to sing to him some more, he felt the terrible need to run again. He couldn’t help it. Surely Maglor would understand and forgive him?
He opened his eyes expecting to see Sauron, but he was disappointed. He was left alone more and more often lately, and in some ways he resented it. Not that he wanted Sauron to take him here. Not now. He didn’t. It felt uncomfortable now that he wasn’t alone, even if Legolas and the children were enchanted – unable to wake up and observe him. But still, Maglor missed his Master in a way that no one would ever understand. He felt somehow incomplete without Sauron, without being in his company and giving in to his cruelty.
But he had awoken alone, and he had almost fallen back into reverie before he realised there was something wrong. Or, more correctly, someone missing. Mithedhel had gone again. Maglor stifled a sigh and left Legolas and ‘Athân together in the bed. He would have to find the young one again. There would be no rest until he had Mithedhel back with him. It was dangerous to be wandering in this place. There were worse things that ghosts and uruk hai in the darker shadows. Worse things even than vampires and wolves. Sauron had servants that were more terrible that an army of restless spirits or a company of war-hungry orcs.
Kissing Legolas’ brow, he silently slipped out of the room, hoping to be back before Sauron discovered that Maglor was not in his place, waiting and wanting to please him. He wondered what his punishment might be for going missing unexpectedly, and his mind skittered away from the thought. He couldn’t afford to think about it, or his fear would keep him from what he had to do.
Mithedhel resumed running wholeheartedly. He was stopped soon though, as he rounded a corner and collided with one of the uruk hai. Golrakh growled at him and picked him up, shaking him a little. Mithedhel wriggled fearlessly in his grasp, and with a growl of his own, sank his small, sharp teeth into Golrakh’s arm.
Useless. Golrakh didn’t budge, he just held Mithedhel up and away from him. Mithedhel frowned again, and began flailing his arms, trying to hit Golrakh’s face. His arms were just too short, and he suddenly grinned and stopped moving. Golrakh eyed him suspiciously and then brought him closer to sniff or to bite. At that point Mithedhel hit the uruk hai clear in the eye and Golrakh dropped him with a pained grunt. It was a long way to fall and he wasn’t fully-grown yet, but Mithedhel was gifted with elven balance and he landed on his feet easily.
Maglor roamed the familiar corridors like one of Sauron’s ghosts. He knew where he was; he had learnt much about the layout of the fortress over the centuries, at least this part of it. He wasn’t comfortable though. He sneaked around corners, hoping that he wouldn’t be observed by anyone, or anything. They all reported to one person, and he would be furious. His clandestine ventures to bring Mithedhel back hadn’t been discovered yet, and for that he was thankful, but he knew that every time he was pushing his luck, and even though the fortress wasn’t really cold – it never was, the volcano acted as a constant source of heat – Maglor shivered.
The differences between ‘Athân and Mithedhel were becoming more and more clear as time passed. Although the young elf child had caught up with Mithedhel in the last year physically, it had become obvious that they were completely different characters. They had both quickly learned to walk, and to talk in short sentences. And they were both curious, but only Mithedhel ran away from safety to explore. For ‘Athân it was something different.
As soon as the young elf was able to understand, Sauron had taken him away without bothering to explain his reasons. The first day it happened, Maglor had feared for Legolas. He couldn’t be calmed, and Maglor had waited nervously for his panic and restlessness to be replaced by quiet uncaring. But then ‘Athân was returned to him several hours later, before that came to pass, and Maglor had been so very relieved. It was selfish really. Probably the best fate Legolas could have was to fade. It would be an escape, but Maglor still didn’t want to be alone, and he couldn’t help being glad that the Prince would stay.
Strangely though, Maglor couldn’t seem to get on with ‘Athân. He seemed entirely devoted to his father, and clung to Legolas almost unhealthily, but then Legolas seemed to want the closeness too so Maglor didn’t interfere. He wasn’t interested in learning songs or anything Maglor could teach him, and it soon became clear that when Sauron took him away it was to be given his own private lessons.
One day he had returned and greeted Maglor in Quenya, and he had been so surprised to hear the old language spoken he hadn’t even replied. But then when he recovered he knew it wasn’t something he wanted to be reminded of anyway, and he didn’t pursue the conversation. To speak Quenya would be to remember his earlier life, and that was something he tried hard to avoid.
Lost in his thoughts, Maglor walked the empty halls, knowing the first place he would look, and hoping that Mithedhel would be there. He didn’t notice the shadow that followed him, and maybe that was a mercy.
Immediately he was running again, too quickly for Golrakh to catch him, and the exhilaration returned when he heard Golrakh thundering down the passage behind him. He shrieked in a mixture of fear and joy and opened a side door, shouldering his way inside the room. Scaly hands grabbed at him, and Mithedhel really began to fight then.
He bit and kicked and punched, even scratched those who tried to hold him. He tasted uruk hai blood in his mouth, and he was hurt in turn. Their claws tore his skin, and their teeth drew his blood. Mithedhel hardly felt it. He growled and snarled and hissed, and although he was no match for them, they let him fight. Eventually though he found himself held down to the floor by Golrakh, who had followed him, and when all of his violence was over, he sighed in satisfaction, thoroughly and blissfully exhausted at last. The uruk hai chuckled around him.
He grunted a word that he knew in the black speech. A word of greeting, and it was echoed all around the room. Mithedhel sighed again happily. He was back. It was at times like this that Mithedhel didn’t know why he allowed Maglor to take him away. He loved being here. It was home. But he knew that by the time Maglor arrived he would want to leave. He didn’t know why.
But for now he enjoyed himself, and his life with the uruk hai. He had to climb to sit at the wooden table, but that didn’t bother him. He was getting bigger every day. He remembered a time when Golrakh had needed to lift him so that he could sit on the wooden bench. They ate, and Mithedhel was so glad to be with them for a meal. Most of what they ate consisted of meaty bones that could be animal or human, or even elf sometimes. But it didn’t matter to him. It felt right to eat like this, to tear the half-cooked flesh from the bones with his teeth, letting the blood and juice dribble down his chin. And they drank too, a fiery liquid that made Mithedhel want to shout and fight again, and later sleep.
They all spoke the black speech, and Mithedhel knew some of the words, the ones that were important anyway. Usually he could get his point across with a series of grunts and blunt gestures, which he enjoyed immensely. While he was here he forgot all the things Maglor taught him. The pointless complexities of the elven language, the songs, and the numbers. Here everything was simple, and he enjoyed it with the simplicity of a child, letting the other side of his nature have its freedom. Maglor would never understand, and neither would ‘Athân. He loved his brother, but he wasn’t interested in fighting or drinking. He had tried to explain what happened when he needed to get away, and ‘Athân seemed to become bored with his explanation. Mithedhel shrugged off the memory, and turned his attention to what would come next. ‘Athân had his own life anyway that Mithedhel had no part in.
Their place was so much bigger than the room he had come from. There was a long stretch of it devoted entirely to sleeping. The uruk hai who were off duty rested on filthy blankets after they had exhausted themselves with fighting and sex. To Mithedhel that was entertainment, and he watched it all with wide eyes. They wouldn’t let him join in with this, but it was violent and brutal. Mithedhel wished he were big enough to be involved. It was so different to what he had seen his father and Maglor do when they thought he was asleep. When he was big enough he would enjoy it too – it looked almost as good as fighting.
When Golrakh lie down to rest for a while, Mithedhel went with him. Golrakh growled almost tenderly when Mithedhel tried to climb on top of him, and then Mithedhel quite suddenly fell asleep half draped over the uruk hai, the drink having taken its toll at last.
Taking a deep breath, Maglor strode into the room. It was some distance away from their chamber, and it had taken some time to get here. There would be a payment demanded for stepping foot in here, and he hoped that it would be worth something to have come, that he would find Mithedhel waiting for him. He looked around.
A few of the uruk hai had looked up when he entered, and now those who noticed him chuckled nastily, but they weren’t surprised to see him. That was a good sign. Maglor knew his position here in their domain, and yet he still felt superior to them. They were only beasts. He wished he didn’t understand why Mithedhel came here, but he did. There was something of the beast in him, something he occasionally needed to let out, and although Maglor would make him promise not to return, he knew it was hopeless.
Not bothering to hide his disgust at the smell and filth, Maglor let his gaze wander around the room, and spotted Mithedhel quite easily. He was asleep with the leader, the one who would for a price ensure the silence of his company. Sauron would not find out he had been here. They all played a dangerous game. And the cause of it all just slept, looking so innocent it hurt Maglor’s heart.
A small crowd gathered around him – as if he would try to escape! Some of them really were stupid, but not the leader. One of the lesser uruk’s was sent to awaken him, and received a fist in the face for his trouble. But then Golrakh realised the reason for the disturbance and he grinned at Maglor, almost laughing. Maglor just stared back, and waited.
Careful not to awaken Mithedhel, Golrakh lifted him gently away and put him down alone on the blanket they shared. Maglor was glad to see the proof that they probably wouldn’t hurt him. No, they wouldn’t. The danger was that they would allow him to leave, and Sauron’s other servants would not be so taken by him. Maglor’s greatest fear was that one day Mithedhel would go missing, and never come back. He couldn’t face such a thought, but it was there nevertheless, and it was almost a certainty.
Golrakh came to stand in front of him, and Maglor met his gaze. He knew enough of the black speech to converse with them, and he did so now.
“Golrakh,” he said with distaste.
“Back again, elf?” The other uruk hai laughed quietly around him, and Maglor didn’t drop his gaze.
“Here only for him,” Maglor replied calmly, wishing they didn’t have to go through this meaningless conversation every single time.
“You are a stupid elf!” Golrakh insisted, and then waited for the reply he had come to expect.
“Yes,” Maglor said quietly, at last feeling the need to look away.
“Always you come back,” the uruk hai captain remarked insinuatingly.
“Always,” Maglor said, not bothering to look up at all now. He just wanted this to be over with soon, and before Mithedhel awoke.
“You must like to taste me, elf.” And there it was. The conversation was over, and Maglor knew what was expected of him now. There wasn’t much that Golrakh could take from him without Sauron knowing about it, and not for the first time he was grateful for it.
Golrakh couldn’t hurt him, mark his skin, or take him. All those things would be too obvious. In fact, Golrakh couldn’t do anything to him at all. But there were things Maglor could do of his own free will that Sauron would not find out about. And this was one. He fell to his knees and closed his eyes for a single moment, before opening them and moving forward to take the uruk hai into his mouth.
Once more he was insanely grateful that Golrakh couldn’t do anything. He knew how dangerous this was. As he licked and sucked and swallowed around the hardened flesh, he knew that the uruk hai was barely in control. He imagined those claws in his hair, pulling him close again and again, fucking his mouth so that he choked, and Maglor moaned as he worked, the fear making him aroused against his will.
Every trick and technique he had learnt he put into practice now, so that it would be over sooner. Golrakh just watched him, a low rumbling in his throat evidence that Maglor was doing exactly the right things. Swirling his tongue around, and then taking Golrakh deep into his throat while he used his tongue to rub the underside of the large shaft. Before long he felt the familiar tension in Golrakh’s body, and he took as much breath as he could before it happened. For the only time during the entire act, the uruk hai took hold of Maglor’s hair and pulled him forward. Gently enough not to leave signs of what had happened, but firmly enough that there was no possibility of escape. Maglor didn’t fight, and Golrakh thrust into his mouth a few times before releasing his seed. Maglor swallowed it all, feeling sickened by it, but knowing that it was part of the price.
When it was over, the uruk hai all left him alone without another word, and Maglor stay kneeling on the floor for a few moments before he recovered enough from the disgust he felt to stand up again. Before him Mithedhel lay alone, still asleep. So innocent. Wordlessly, Maglor went to pick him up and take him back, not regretting for one moment what he had to do to ensure his safety. In his sleep he clung to Maglor and made him smile. As he looked up he caught Golrakh’s eye, and something passed between them. Something of understanding. The uruk hai actually smiled.
“You will be back again, elf,” he said, nodding. It was the first time the uruk hai captain had said anything to him afterwards and for a moment Maglor was speechless. Then he understood, and he knew it was the truth.
“Yes,” he admitted, and then walked away out of the room, leaving the uruk hai alone. When he was walking back, he thought for a moment that a shadow moved quickly across the path before him, fleeing from his sight. He stopped in fear, but nothing emerged from the darkness, and Maglor breathed again, blaming his imagination. He relaxed and then hurried back before he could be discovered.
After he had made Mithedhel promise to stay where it was safe – again – without the slightest hope that it would work, Maglor stayed awake. He sat in silence for what was left of the night, even though he knew that Mithedhel would not disappear again for a little while. He knew what he waited for, perhaps only so that he could reassure himself he hadn’t missed it, but the dark lord did not visit him.
The next day began in the same way as the rest. There was nothing unusual. The children had stopped feeding from Legolas by now, but they required regular meals, and the uruk hai brought in breakfast. There was the usual rebellious flinging around of food from Mithedhel, although that wasn’t as bad this time. He was always a little calmer after his visits to the uruk hai, as if he had got something out of his system.
‘Athân was silent, as usual, speaking in quiet, private murmurs to Legolas when the other elf brushed his hair. Golrakh came to collect ‘Athân, and there wasn’t even a glance between them, although Mithedhel ran to him and squealed happily when the uruk lifted him high into the air. There was nothing strange about any of it. Mithedhel of course stayed with them. So they went walking together when orcs could be spared to guard them. Not that there was anything to see here. No. There was never anything. Mordor was a cruel land, and it wasn’t pleasant to be out in. But the exercise was good for the body, and the soul – even if the scenery left something to be desired.
Their favourite game was something they were teaching Mithedhel, although he didn’t truly understand the nature of it. How could he? Maglor walked up behind Legolas and covered his eyes. When he drew his hands away Legolas was stood still with his eyes closed, smiling slightly, and Maglor began. He whispered a vision to the elf Prince – a vision of Valinor from long ago – something he remembered. He pulled Legolas down to his knees as he spoke, cushioning the hard ground with a blanket they had brought along, creating for him the illusion of a meadow. He described the scene down the merest blade of grass, the cool blue of the sky reflected in the nearby lake, the slight breeze that drifted in off the water. At this point he nodded to Mithedhel, and the little uruk blew lightly against Legolas’ face, making him giggle.
When Legolas opened his eyes, he reached out for Maglor without giving reality a chance to exist or intrude. Legolas kissed him quickly before the young blond warrior rolled them around so that Maglor was trapped beneath him. They paid no attention to the orcs. Over time they became merely scenery, and neither of them could be taken from the world they shared. For a moment something flashed between them, and they grinned at each other, each remembering their nights together.
“Close your eyes,” Legolas whispered with a smile, and Maglor obeyed with a glad heart. This was a pleasure he never experienced with Sauron. This was acceptance. It was easy to give to the Prince like this, so easy, and Maglor listened while Legolas whispered to him of the woods. Maglor had never seen the Greenwood, and it was almost as good as being there, these fantasies they wove for each other. These descriptions were more than just a memory or a recounting. They carried a love for what they missed in every word and every expression. They were praising what they could no longer see, still just as gladdened by those lands and woods than if they had never left.
Mithedhel curled up beside him, and Maglor held the little one, knowing he was just as enchanted by Legolas’ words as he was. His lies were never this beautiful, never this magical, however much sorcery he used. When the words became too much, as they always did, Maglor opened his eyes and placed a finger over Legolas’ lips. Never carry on once the note of longing became too accented, too bitter. “Shh,” Maglor said. “That was perfect, just there.” Legolas smiled a little sadly and leaned down to take Maglor’s lips in a tender kiss. “I believe you,” he whispered then, and the young Prince just smiled at him again.
“Thank you. I believe you too,” he said with a little grin. But this was much more important than anything they might have said. To be heard and known and believed was to be real again. Maglor felt that he was a part of the world, even in his enslavement, and he had forgotten what that was like.
There was a frustrated sigh, and both of them looked at the little uruk then. “But it’s pretend!” he insisted, his brow wrinkled up in puzzlement. Legolas laughed and scooped him up. They dusted themselves off and resumed walking.
“Then it is time for you to learn about the world, pen neth,” said Maglor, with a quick glance at Legolas. He would need help with this one. Legolas took his hand and everything was fine. When they returned, Maglor began teaching Mithedhel what the outside world was like, and his wonder was joyful and yet sad to behold. Would he ever see these things? Would any of them see the outside world again?
Some time later, ‘Athân came back, and ran immediately to Legolas. It was usually the uruk, Golrakh, that brought him back so Maglor didn’t bother to look up, made a point of it. And it wasn’t until he became aware of a presence behind him that he realised Sauron had brought ‘Athân back this time. He and Mithedhel were kneeling on the floor, drawing pictures of flowers and trees with a small piece of chalky stone. A split second before he realised what was afoot, Sauron had picked Mithedhel up and out of Maglor’s reach. He made to stand.
“Stay where you are,” Sauron warned softly, pleasantly. He spoke in Quenya. With a sick feeling Maglor obeyed, but he turned around on his knees so that he could see what was happening. As he did so he caught ‘Athân’s eye, and the young elf stared back at him knowingly. What was this about? And then Sauron told him.
“If I was to come here one night to enjoy you, and found you missing…” Maglor couldn’t breathe. He watched Sauron with Mithedhel in his arms. Mithedhel was quiet, but unafraid. He hadn’t been this close to Sauron since his birth. The dark lord didn’t look down at Maglor, and only stared at the little uruk. Suddenly Sauron smiled. “Such beautiful eyes!” he exclaimed in Sindarin to no one in particular, as if he hadn’t just uttered a clear threat. He returned to Quenya.
“Or, let me put it another way. If I believed for one moment that ‘this’ was more important to you than me…” Slowly, Sauron’s hand moved, until he held Mithedhel’s neck in a light grip. The little uruk growled, and the dark lord laughed at the noise. “But that would be too foolish, wouldn’t it? Even for you.” He growled back at Mithedhel playfully, the golden-yellow light flaring in his eyes, and Mithedhel looked at Sauron now in awe, reaching out to touch his neck, to find out where the sound had come from.
“Yes, Herdir.” Maglor couldn’t keep still, seeing the danger, and he almost touched Sauron’s robes, almost held out his arms for Mithedhel to be returned to him. “Please,” he whispered, his fear making his voice silent when he most needed to be heard.
“Don’t reach out,” he warned, and Maglor’s hands dropped to his sides. “Don’t speak, don’t even breathe wrongly.” He paused, still with his hand around Mithedhel’s neck. “You can’t afford to care what happens here, Maglor.” He understood it, and he wished he didn’t. He had to look away! He had to ignore it! It was the hardest thing that Maglor had ever done, but he managed because it might be the only way to stop this from getting any worse. It seemed like far too long before Sauron spoke again, and the relief Maglor felt almost had him cry out. But that would have been a terrible mistake.
“Your love will kill him.” Again a pause, and Maglor looked at Legolas. All along this exchange had been in Quenya. Had Legolas understood the threat? Certainly he knew the danger. At some point Legolas had started towards them, and now he was frozen in place, unable to move. A spell of Sauron’s keeping him back from his child. “Do you understand?” Sauron asked at last, and it took all the will Maglor had not to look up, to make certain that Mithedhel was safe.
“Yes, Herdir,” he said through numbed lips, surprised that he could actually speak.
“Good!” the dark lord said brightly, and then walked over to place Mithedhel in Legolas’ arms, whereupon he released the Prince, and Legolas backed away as fast as he could. Sauron watched them for a moment, and then turned to look at Maglor. “Distance will ease temptation,” he said, and Maglor knew he had to keep the eye contact. “Do not anger me,” Sauron warned. From the corner of his eye Maglor could see Legolas and the young uruk, but he knew he couldn’t afford to look.
“No, I won’t, Hîr nín,” he said miserably, feeling his loneliness almost as a physical thing. He looked into Sauron’s eyes, and he knew that whatever little joys he might have with this family around him, he was still alone. They weren’t his. Sauron was all he would be allowed to have. Maglor closed his eyes and let his head drop, certain that Sauron was walking away at last, leaving it like this. And he was sure it wasn’t enough, not anymore. For one instant, despite everything, he wished that Legolas had never come and that he was still alone.
He didn’t realise that Sauron hadn’t left the room until he felt hands on his face and familiar lips covering his. He gave in to the kiss, but he opened his eyes, and he saw that Sauron had come to kneel before him. He closed his eyes again and despite what had just happened he couldn’t help responding to it. Sauron was much more to him than a threatening presence. He had been everything to Maglor before Legolas had appeared, and it couldn’t easily be thrown aside. The length of time he hadn’t been alone was barely the blink of an eye, and after everything he had gone through with only Sauron as a witness, Maglor didn’t know if he wanted to let it go. He didn’t know if he could.
The one great constant in Maglor’s existence was Sauron. He was so much more to Maglor than Legolas could understand. Even if Legolas’ coming had heralded a period of clear sanity, there was no escaping this destructive love and desire. It burned in him still and it was impossible to ignore. He was nothing more than a puppet. Not only did Sauron know the right strings to pull; he also had a hand in making them. And in the face of his fear for Mithedhel, and the terrible danger he felt for the little uruk, Maglor turned to one thing. To the one constant in his existence. He turned to Sauron. And just as at every other time when Maglor had needed him the most, Sauron was there, waiting.
By the time Sauron left, Maglor had almost forgotten what he had come for. And then he looked around, and it all came back. There was nothing he wanted more than to go to Mithedhel and make sure he was all right. But he couldn’t, and Legolas looked on him with distrust now, anyway. Distance would ease temptation. It was right. And Maglor began to distance himself from them. But someone smiled. ‘Athân. He sat and he smiled at Maglor when Legolas couldn’t see him – and it chilled Maglor’s blood to see it. Now he knew how Sauron had found out.
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.