2. Part Zero: The Fairest
Sauron opened his eyes.
First, he saw blackness. He realized that he faced a wall of black stone in the place where he had given himself form. It was the inside of the greatest volcano alive in Middle-Earth, a nameless mountain in a nameless land. He looked down, and saw the broad ledge he stood on, a shelf of crusted stone, and lifted one of his own feet, examining it.
This channel to the earth's heart was the place in Middle-Earth where he, a spirit of the earth's fire long ago, was most powerful, and it was here he had spun a body about him again. The Maiar and Valar were powerful, but a body was a greater work than it seemed. He thought the long effort worth it as he admired his flawless foot. Without a body, he had felt the world's energy, and sensed its peoples dimly, but the form joined him to the laws of the physical world, and let him affect it. This was why even the Valar of the west normally dwelled in these shapes.
Sauron's new eyes adjusted to the red light of the lava-lit cavern, diluted with dim sunlight at the crater's opening. Fearlessly, he took a first step forward, dry ash crumbling beneath his feet. At the edge of the stone shelf, he looked into the cracking, sintering dome of half-congealed magma at the volcano's base. Now, he distinguished colours, the walls about patched with vivid yellow sulfur, grey ash, and slashes of black obsidian. Steams and smokes arose from the depths, and Sauron tilted his head to hear the cracking and bubbling of stone and gas. The reek of the earth's bowels assaulted his nostrils, and he welcomed it.
Sauron stepped back from the edge and ran his fresh hands over his new body. He was curious as to how much of his Maia's power he retained, this embodiment. Some was lost forever as the price paid for the body's making, a ransom to the laws of nature such a making broke. He turned and gestured at the mountain's wall where it was blotched with obsidian. Shards and plates of the volcano-glass cracked and fell. The wall seethed for a moment, then the remelted glass drooped into smoothness. Sauron felt his face shape into a smile at this first success, and stepped up to his dark mirror. He looked at himself.
Sauron smiled again, for all was as he had meant it to be; his most beautiful body ever. Tall, but only as tall as the greatest of Elves and Men, for he meant to go among them. Fair beyond their measure, too, with a beauty that mingled what he found admirable about both peoples. He had observed the bodies of both mortals and immortals closely when he had tormented them in the War of the Jewels, sometimes spending a day or three on an intriguing specimen.
Sauron had taken a fair elvish face, balanced between the male and the female, so that everyone who looked on him would see something to admire, however their desires were turned. He had spun long golden hair, rich as earth-metal, and eyes of brilliant blue-green, and dreamed sleek long limbs and a fine-honed body. Elves were easily, foolishly moved by such beauty. They had hearkened to the greatest, darkest Valar of all, Morgoth, when his form had been fair, before Morgoth was marred by anger and wounds.
After all the hatred of Elves Morgoth had worked hard to sow amongst mortal Men, it was well to not look entirely like an elf. Sauron wanted mortals' worship, not their despise. From the beauty of mortals he had taken rounded ears - a little thing - and a golden-tawny skin. Although these features could be found in the children of Arda, the combination of them was unique. He would beguile them all, this way; no folk would spurn him.
His sex was male, for this was his nature. Sauron had considered being female; he had seen in Luthien the power a beautiful woman might wield. But he concluded it was too ambiguous a power, one that made people want to possess, not obey, and he preferred the latter. Sauron stroked his member, nested in a light thatch of spun gold. He knew all folk merited this as a symbol of power. Thus Sauron had not stinted himself, but kept it as elegant as the rest of him, generous yet balanced, a virile ideal made real.
New sensations thrilled through him at the touch. Sauron ran his hands over other areas of his skin, testing his reactions. His hands were smooth and warm, nails short and squared, not the fearful talons he had donned as Gorthaur, the torturer. Yet those hands might do the same work in the end, and in the obsidian mirror he saw his brilliant white smile at that thought.
Sauron knelt slowly, feeling the muscles of his legs and back shift, and took up one of the obsidian-shards. He used it to trim back some of the golden hair over his brow into an even fringe. It would be always orderly, now, more of a shimmering frame for his fine oval face. When that was done, he pondered the sparkling blade idly, then, cool and curious, ran the sharp edge along his golden arm, once, twice, three times. Blood welled up, bright as the magma in the seams below; he had even bethought to make what flowed in his veins lovely. He felt how the pain opened and throbbed, watched the blood run and slow. Then he lifted his cut forearm to his mouth and lapped at the blood, approving of its iron taste.
All Sauron's senses were now alive, keen to pain and pleasure - the price spirits had to pay for donning such a form. And he was ready to use every inch of his body to his advantage, for he considered the sensual congress of the folk of Arda a great weakness of theirs. He had been aware of desperate embraces between the doomed in the depths of his dungeons, and had bid his servants abuse them with rape and even more ghastly physical dishonour. But he had also seen what the passion of Beren and Luthien had wrought, and wondered what he might win if he lured some person of power to him that way.
Fully incarnate, he paused for a last moment before leaving this place where his power was greatest. No other being could endure this place for long, its heat and fumes. Sauron drew some more of the earth's heat to him, and saw in the mirror that this set fire in his eyes, gave a glimmer to his skin. He tried to draw in more - and could not. The limit was found. He scowled briefly, and saw it in the mirror, and thought he must remember not to do that around folk he was persuading. All his will to power showed, his face shadowed with the wolf-hate he had worn in other, more fell forms.
It was all about control, he decided. Staying in control. He could not let himself be mastered by anger or hatred for the unjust ones who had cast out his beloved lord, Melkor, who they had renamed Morgoth. They had been so close to working pure order upon Middle-Earth! Morgoth was the most superior of the Valar. It had been fitting and fair that he should rule and Sauron should serve. Morgoth knew how to punish those who denied him, and how to reward with power. He had established the vision of the races of Middle-Earth in their place, and worked towards that with the races of Orcs and Trolls. Sauron would continue their great work, and reach out to his lord's spirit, exiled to the Void without. He would start as Morgoth had, with the noblest of Elves.
Unclad as a roaming spirit, Sauron had sensed the Elves who remained, the greatest of all folk on Middle-Earth. He would not make Morgoth's mistakes - but they had been few, really. The Dark Lord done an admirable job of corrupting the Elves. Morgoth's error had been stealing the Silmarils, the jewels of the Elves' lords, and inciting their anger and war. Sauron, too, valued the precious gem-work and things of power Elves might make. He decided he would encourage them in this, and let them keep their works, but bind those works to him. Thus he would use their weakness of the love of their crafts and powers against them.
Sauron was determined not to fail again. It would take hundreds of subtle years. He would have to be as patient as stone. But even stone had its hot triumphs, he thought, peering over at the magma-pit again. He needed no oaths to seal his determination. Foolish oaths would be another weapon the Elves would take up themselves to aid him.
Sauron closed his eyes deliberately, and felt the darkness behind his lids, spangled with phosphenes, the ghost-lights of the mind. This darkness might be shared by all the beings of Arda. He would draw refuge and strength from it when the world's disorder called him on to hateful haste.
Sauron opened his eyes again, and spoke the first words with his new mouth. Let it be! he cried, in the words of Maiar and Valar, and the volcano quailed to its heart at its master's power.
Sauron's limbs were far stronger than they seemed, and he began to clamber the pit's walls. The stone melted beneath its master's touch to cup his hands and feet as he went up into the light of the Sun, heedless of pain.
This story takes place around Second Age 750. Sauron's "stirring," noted in The Silmarillion, I am interpreting as his mind recovering from his great defeat and feeling out the realms and ways of changed Middle-Earth.
A nameless mountain in a nameless land = At the time of this story, Sauron has not yet established the realm of Mordor, nor has Mount Doom/Orodruin been named.
Beren and Luthien = From The Silmarillion, Luthien was the loveliest woman ever, and she defied Sauron with powerful song to save her fiancée (lover?) the human Beren.
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