21. Chapter Twenty-One
When he had seen to the imprisonment of the half-uruk, Sauron returned to Maglor. He returned with ‘Athân, and when his son ran into his father’s arms with seeming happiness, Sauron smiled inwardly, but then he paid attention to his slave. He considered what to do. Maglor could be asleep, but his eyes were closed and his breathing was just a little too slow, a little too shallow. Now that he was calmer he could admit the truth to himself – that this was his own fault. He had simply pushed the elf too far, and although his magic could keep Maglor from fading whatever cruelties were inflicted on him – when the elf was hurt through someone else the spell was virtually useless.
But what to do now… A plan began to form in his mind, and he knew how to bring the elf back to him. It would take time on his part. A few weeks at least. So? What were a few weeks after all the time he had spent perfecting the elf’s reactions? He wouldn’t let Maglor go now. There was no escape.
Without explaining anything to Legolas, he picked Maglor up from the bed and walked away with him – leaving Legolas and ‘Athân to themselves for a while.
He awoke in his Master’s arms, in his bed, and he felt the same dull, distant feeling as before. Memories of Mithedhel came to him, and he pulled back. He expected the hands that were gently stroking his back to keep hold of him and force him to stay, but they let go. Maglor sat on the very edge of the bed. He became cold, but it didn’t matter. Every now and again as the time passed he looked at Sauron. The dark lord simply lay quietly, watching him. He sat on the edge of the bed for hours. At some point he realised he was painfully thin. How long have I been asleep? He fidgeted, feeling his bones digging in to him. He inspected his hair and found it lacklustre and lifeless, he caught sight of his hands and his fingernails were brittle and weak. I’m fading. It didn’t matter.
The time passed. Maglor didn’t move. He was cold. He looked at Sauron, still watching him. There were no questions. Nothing mattered. After some time, maybe an entire day, Maglor crawled back into his Master’s arms, and Sauron held him in the same gentle, undemanding way as before. Warmth. Maglor snuggled closer to this new, different Master. He felt Sauron’s hands resume their gentle stroking, and he sighed. He lay with his face pressed against Sauron’s chest and he breathed in Sauron’s scent deeply. Something changed in him, but Maglor hardly noticed it. Nothing mattered. And so he moved slightly, relaxed completely, embracing the new feeling. Something he had never felt here in Sauron’s arms. He felt safe.
When he awoke again, he was faced away from Sauron. He must have turned in his sleep. He turned over and moved close to his Master. Those arms closed around him once more, and Sauron kissed the top of his head. Safety. He slept again.
The next day, he found himself accepting small amounts of food. They still didn’t speak, and the dark lord didn’t command him to eat. He simply held tiny pieces of bread and fruit against his lips, and Maglor found himself eating. Eventually he refused to open his mouth, turning his head away listlessly, and then Sauron stopped offering the food to him. He drank some water though, and then Maglor lay as before, with those soothing hands stroking him. There was no real change.
The days passed, until the time he awoke alone. He sat up in the bed uncertainly, unconsciously twisting the sheets in his hands. It was only a matter of minutes before Sauron returned, and he came to Maglor immediately when he saw that he was awake. He sat on the edge of the bed, and then opened his arms, and Maglor moved into the embrace gladly.
He found himself in Sauron’s lap with his arms around the dark lord’s neck. Sauron was dressed this time. Maglor trembled. “Shh…” Sauron hushed him, resuming the soothing little touches as before. Safe again. He relaxed, and then for the first time in days, Maglor spoke.
“Don’t leave me again. I don’t want to be alone.” I don’t want to die alone. Sauron’s only answer was to kiss his forehead gently. Maglor looked up, finally feeling the need to ask.
“Why?” His voice was flat and emotionless. “Why did you do it?” Maglor shook his head tiredly. You have finally, actually killed me. “He was beautiful. He was innocent. He was joy. He was hope.” When he received no answer he began to pull away, and Sauron allowed him to go, but then he didn’t really want to leave the safety, and he moved into the embrace again with a frustrated sigh, burrowing his face into his Master’s shoulder.
“Do you trust me?” Sauron asked softly. Maglor thought for a while. He was clear in his thoughts. His life seemed distant now, but he remembered everything. The answer he gave was as close to the truth as he could get in words.
“Yes. But I don’t believe you. I never did.” Sauron seemed to consider that for a while, then he asked another question.
“Do you love me?” Again, Maglor devoted thought to the question, and tried to answer honestly.
“Yes. But I hate you. I always did.” There was another lengthy pause, and Maglor began to think the conversation was over. Did everything he wanted to say come down to those few statements? It seemed so little for all that had transpired. Was this really all he had to say to Sauron?
“Do you forgive me?”
“No,” he answered without bothering to think, but then he found himself thinking about it anyway, thinking about what Sauron was asking for. “No!” He looked up at Sauron now in shock, suddenly seeing what he was trying to do. “Don’t ask me that!” he said, but in his heart he knew it was already too late. Sauron knew exactly what to do. He always did.
“But I have to. Can you forgive me?” It wasn’t a command. Sauron voiced the request with what sounded like curiosity and Maglor shook his head.
“No, I can’t,” he said quickly. He glared at Sauron for even mentioning it. “You mustn’t ask me for that. You must see that I can’t.” Sauron only looked down on him with something in his eyes that might be pity. But he was a liar, wasn’t he? Maglor tried to remember that fact as Sauron replied.
“I didn’t take him to hurt you, or to test you.” He ran a finger lovingly down Maglor’s cheek. “He saw something he shouldn’t have seen. I had no choice.” He sighed and looked at Maglor earnestly, as if he was asking for such a little thing. “Can you forgive me for hurting you?”
Oh! It was such a little thing! Not to be asked for forgiveness for the crime, but for forgiveness for what it meant to him. And it would be enough, he knew. If he gave in to this, then he would stay, and carry on being a prisoner here. “Please…” he begged, knowing that with his very words he was encouraging Sauron to continue. “Do anything you want to me, but not this.” Let me go.
“You know how important it is, forgiveness. Can you deny someone, even someone such as me, something you desire so much?” Maglor cried for the first time in days. Emotion returned, and he knew it was already done. Such a small thing. And it was the asking that made it so, whether it was genuine or not. Still, the dark lord asked. He took Maglor’s arms from around his neck and held his hands in front of his face. He bent his head and kissed Maglor’s palms softly, and then looked into his eyes.
“Don’t,” Maglor pleaded desperately, somehow knowing what was going to come next. “Don’t say it, please, no, don’t speak.” He shook his head, trying to make Sauron stop. Stop him from saying what he was about to say, because it was so very wrong.
“Please,” Sauron whispered.
It was unnatural. It shouldn’t be like this. And it was that feeling more than anything else that made Maglor give in to the dark lord’s wishes. It was already done anyway, and Maglor gave it to him before Sauron could say ‘please’ again. “Yes,” he breathed. “I forgive you.” It was done, and now he would stay.
“Thank you,” Sauron said, and placed Maglor back on the bed before lying down beside him. Maglor cried, not for himself, but for Mithedhel. His short life had been worth something, hadn’t it? Sauron allowed him to cry, but at the same time his touches were not so soothing as before. Now his Master felt dangerous once more. Maglor didn’t breathe a word of protest when Sauron pushed him onto his stomach. Nor did he say anything when Sauron’s intentions became obvious. He cried helplessly into the pillows when Sauron took him. His body was weakened and he felt dizzy for lack of food. Maglor relaxed even though he expected to feel pain, but it was much too easy for the dark lord to take him, and Maglor knew that Sauron must have prepared him for this while he slept. Sickened, he knew it meant only one thing. That all along Sauron had known he would bring Maglor back.
The pleasure was as intense as the pain. Maglor moaned quietly, aware that his body reacted the same as it always did. He couldn’t stop it, and it felt like disrespect to enjoy this now, but he couldn’t help himself. Once more, Sauron was his tormentor and his comfort. Sauron was all things, and when the dark lord began to move harder and faster, groaning because he was near release, Maglor knew that he was lost. His own orgasm wasn’t really important, and he endured it with a word of regret on his lips. He didn’t know who the apology was for anymore, but he knew he hadn’t wanted to enjoy this.
When Sauron reached completion, and stopped moving at last, Maglor trembled and quivered beneath him, crying into the pillows as if his soul was being torn apart. Was his Master pleased? He hardly felt Sauron taking hold of one of his hands to clasp it tightly, but he heard the dark lord’s words clearly. “I have missed you, mûl vain nín.” Everything was back to the way it was. But nothing would ever be the same. He felt Sauron brushing his hair away to the side, so that he could kiss the back of Maglor’s neck. It sent an electric shiver through him.
“Don’t cry,” he said quietly. “I told you I wouldn’t let you go. It was never your choice to leave. You should know this by now.” Maglor only sobbed a little more for hearing the truth, but true to Sauron’s wishes the tears stopped falling as he answered.
“Yes, Herdir.” But somewhere deep inside, in a place that was hidden even from Maglor, an old idea began to reassert itself. Escape.
It had been at least two weeks, and ‘Athân was slowly going out of his mind. For two weeks he really had no one but Legolas for company while his father was off somewhere else with the slave. He knew there was a price to pay for his insistence on saving Mithedhel’s life, but even so he began to wish Sauron would return to take him away. A few times he managed to convince the uruk hai who brought their meals to lead him away in the morning. He could speak their language. Language was one of the things Sauron insisted on him learning; the more the better. And he was grateful for that now. On those days he went to visit his brother. Mithedhel was in a worse state than he was. He was terribly bored, just as ‘Athân had expected. Still, it couldn’t be helped, and at least he was still alive. He gave his brother books to read to alleviate the long days, but he knew it wasn’t really enough.
Although he had been taught to despise Legolas, nothing made him hate the elf more than knowing that he had stood by and allowed Mithedhel to be taken from him. His own son. The elves were weak, and stupid. Yes, all the things his father said were true. He observed Legolas’ grief with a cold detachment, and no part of him wanted to spare Legolas the misery. He deserved to believe Mithedhel was dead. He had done nothing to save him, after all.
Still, the amount of time Sauron spent away began to worry him, and his anticipation of the price for his defiance grew. With no one to confide in, ‘Athân found that stress was a difficult burden, and when Maglor returned he was at breaking point. To see the elf return after he had been fading was almost amusing. He was so easily controlled. What had it taken for his father to keep the elf here? Probably not much. ‘Athân had no respect for either of them.
The next morning, the uruk hai came for him as usual, as if his lessons had never halted, and ‘Athân went gladly. He would face his punishment now. But his father did nothing. The day passed in much the same way as any other, and he began to feel uncomfortable. Sauron would not have forgotten.
Before he was sent away, Sauron beckoned him closer, and at first ‘Athân was sure this was it, but Sauron only measured him against the wall. It was one of the more peculiar things his father did; one of the things that gave ‘Athân hope that Sauron sometimes thought of him as a son rather than a tool to be used. There were marks on the wall made by chalk. The first one was very low, a measurement of his height the first day he had come here to be taught. Every month was a new line, a visual depiction of his growth.
Now he was measured again, but the month wasn’t over, so why now? When he had finished, Sauron used the chalk to draw a line high on the wall, well above ‘Athân’s head. He smiled then, and ‘Athân was afraid.
“How long do you think it will take to reach this line?” ‘Athân didn’t know what Sauron expected him to say. What was this about? He looked again, and he realised he would be fully-grown when he was that tall. He would be an adult. It was years away from now.
“Thirteen years?” he hazarded, thinking that he must say something.
“Anticipation is a useful tool, Ezelpathân. But, as always, I will show you as well as tell you.” ‘Athân stared at the line, so far away. “When you reach this line, I will punish you for your refusal to co-operate. Do you understand?”
‘Athân continued to stare at the line. So far away… for now. But it would get closer. He shivered, understanding completely what it would mean; and already anticipating how it would feel when he drew near it. A little closer every month. It would be torture. He looked up at his father, and Sauron was smiling at him coldly.
“Yes, father,” he said slowly.
When he returned to Legolas and Maglor, ‘Athân was still reeling with the final words Sauron had said to him. ‘Athân had made the mistake of asking why he would need to be so tall. Apart from the terrible torture of the anticipation, there must be a reason his father had chosen so high a target. Then Sauron had laughed.
“You are a child, and you are still so impressionable,” he reached down to caress ‘Athân’s face. “When you are older, you will quite naturally resist.” ‘Athân wondered what his father meant by that, and as if he had asked, Sauron answered him. “It will be much more difficult to make you scream.”
Now he was back with the elves, and their ‘grief.’ ‘Athân felt his rage burning in him until he couldn’t keep it in any longer…
He said what he wanted to say to Legolas, finally telling the truth, regardless of the consequences, and when he presented himself to his father the next morning, it seemed that Sauron already knew what had happened. He walked over to the wall where the line was drawn in silence, and marked the number two next to it. ‘Athân nodded in understanding. He wasn’t left with the elves again, but given his own lonely room. In some ways it was a relief.
There were many places that he could have gone for this. Their boundaries were not made of stone, and so he could have just wandered until they found him. But he had come here, because he seemed to think of this hall as their place. Sauron didn’t use the giant room for anything, and often their whispering could be heard here.
He entered the hall quietly, and stood for a moment or two before walking into the room properly, away from the safety of the door. It was still silent, and Maglor walked quickly, until he could no longer see the wall behind him. Then he stopped and waited.
As he waited he thought back on what had finally driven him to come here. Why would he ask for their help now, when he had no interest in it before? The answer was simple. For Legolas. ‘Athân had finally shown his true colours, and had said such terrible things to his father that Maglor knew he would fade. On top of the certainty of Mithedhel’s death, it was too much. For now Legolas was still hoping that ‘Athân would return and apologise. But the more he thought on those harsh words, the more Legolas would come to realise that there was no going back on them.
These were not heated, angry things, but truths that ‘Athân had obviously been keeping back for a long time. He told Legolas how much he hated him for his weakness and his willingness to co-operate with Sauron. Told him how sick it made him to be ‘looked after’ by someone who obviously couldn’t look after themselves. To top it all, ‘Athân had finished by saying that after the way he acted, Legolas deserved Mithedhel’s death on his conscience. The light in Legolas’ eyes had died when ‘Athân spoke the last few words. “How could I possibly look up to something like you? How could I ever seek to emulate you?” he had said in undisguised disgust. “My father is not an elf. My father is not a Prince. My father is Maiar.” No, Legolas would not recover from that.
And so he was here to ask for help. He wasn’t scared of them. They had no substance, and could only threaten. He waited in the darkness, listening to his own breath, while the thick, unnatural warmth gathered around him. He saw movement, but he didn’t turn and look. He still waited. Eventually the picture in front of him seemed to change somewhat. He blinked to bring it into focus, and he was right. There was a white figure walking towards him through the gloom. Maglor watched in silence. He didn’t realise he was holding his breath. He wiped his hands down the front of the thin fabric of his clothes.
Was it coming closer? He strained to see, and then it rushed him. Maglor cried out and stumbled backwards as the figure moved quickly forward until he was sure he must be knocked down by it – but it passed straight through him. He knew what it was now. The last impression he had was of a grinning skull, so close that even when it was gone he continued moving back, trying to get away from it. The whispering began then.
What were they saying? He couldn’t possibly tell. So many voices, all saying the same thing in a different way. From nowhere a hand shoved him, and he whirled around quickly to find that he was alone in the dark. Again, and slowly but surely Maglor was pushed around the hall, until he realised with a start that he was lost within it. He no longer knew which way was the way out. And at the same time he realised he knew what the ghosts were saying.
“I wish to speak with you.” Maglor almost didn’t recognise the sound of his own voice, but with the words a little of his fear dissipated, and he remembered why he was here. The voices around him laughed, and it seemed as if he must be stood in a crowd of people – but he was alone.
Again he was being pushed around, forced to step back and then to turn, until he was sure he was almost dancing with them. Some of the voices laughed again. “Then please tell me. There must be an escape,” he said indignantly. The voices whispered back.
They were making fun of him! Maglor closed his eyes to their laughter. And with his eyes closed, he saw them. Oh, so many! Maglor had known none of them until they became spirits, trapped in this place. Until Legolas arrived he had always been alone. And yet they must have been real once. There were male and female here, old and young, sylvan, sindar and noldor. He couldn’t even count them, and he saw the same story in them all. Sauron had failed with each and every one. Some of the elf maidens cradled their swollen bellies as though the life inside them had survived. Still others cried for their loss. And suddenly Maglor was aware of the sadness. Not sadness for their plight, and for their entrapment here, but for their children. So many!
Then he realised that others had almost survived. Male elves for the most part. The wounds were only small, and in the same place as he had observed on Legolas, but they had not lived through the strange operation. Some though had not survived the first taking, passing away from grief despite the spell, only to awaken still trapped here. Maglor shook his head and opened his eyes, but now the vision was real. They stood in front of him. “I’m so sorry,” he said helplessly.
The ghosts laughed at him in their misery, and Maglor began to despair. Why had he come here? They weren’t able to help anyway. Elves they may have once been, but the centuries of imprisonment had maddened their very souls. He was given a sudden vision of himself as one of these, running through the fortress again and again, never finding a way out. Sauron appeared, and he watched himself try to draw the dark lord’s attention. It was impossible. He was nothing. He saw himself with Sauron, and knew he was unable to intervene. The Maglor in his vision begged for the dark lord’s mercy and favours. They had been watching him!
Suddenly Maglor was angry. What right had they to judge? He did accept his punishment – he always had. “And what of the Prince? You must know of him. Does he deserve this place?”
“Forgotten.” He repeated the word as if it held meaning, thinking that in some ways their positions were just the same.
There would be no help. “I shouldn’t have come here,” he admitted then, realising that they wouldn’t help even if they could. But then they surprised him – they gave him a warning.
“Please! You must help us!” he shouted desperately. But soon the ghosts melted away like frost in the sun, and Maglor realised that although they were gone, he was not alone.
“Why are you here, mûl nín? What did you come here for?” He turned in dread to face Sauron, trying not to let his face show what he had been doing. What had he been doing? Maglor looked confused and then shook his head slowly, giving an answer to his Master that would surely mean punishment.
“I can’t remember.” Sauron looked at him for a few moments, and then frowned.
“No… you can’t,” he said slowly, as if in consideration. He looked around. “Do you think he can help you? You are trapped, and you will always be trapped! Useless in death as in life!” He turned to regard Maglor again, and took hold of his arm. He smiled when his slave trembled.
“Come. I wish to hear you play for me,” he said, and Maglor whimpered despite himself, unable to keep it in. “If you are good and please me, I might give you a reward,” Sauron said devilishly, pulling Maglor close to him for a moment to claim his lips in a kiss.
“Yes, Hîr nín.” Maglor didn’t remember what had transpired until he was returned to Legolas and left alone. But then he did, and the whispering began again while Maglor listened carefully to every word.
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.