1. In The Beginning
The first thing she could sense was Intent, and slow growth of understanding as to what was to come. And the Intent questioned her, pushed her to find a voice; and then poured approval and encouragement for her to do more. Then, finally, purpose was given and direction; and a slow realization came that hers was not the only voice. Each of the others was soft, uncertain, different but so much the same, each bringing a unique timbre and emphasis. As each voice became familiar, she discovered she could reach out with her own song and touch the others - exploring them through their responses to her, exploring herself through hers to them.
She floated, her voice raised in harmony, content to let the phrases and refrains pull her this way and that through whatever undefined substance lay beyond. Sometimes alone, sometimes together, slowly coalescing, growing stronger; until suddenly the Intent gave leave for all the voices to sing together in a Great Work.
At first, she was afraid, intimidated at the magnitude of what was intended and her place in it; but again she was filled with approval and encouragement. Inspired, she raised her voice with the others.
The result was Music - pure, all-pervasive, compelling. Glorious. And she was both part of it and yet, somehow, separate from it.
She sang and reveled in the singing, until she suddenly noticed that one voice had begun to move against the harmony. Her voice faltered as she debated whether to continue singing with the others or to try to harmonize with this new strain. Yet, even as she considered, the Intent poured through her again; and the Music renewed itself and changed. Once more she lifted her voice gratefully and shared in the harmonies and descants, until once more the strident voice began to struggle for dominance and made her again hesitate.
A third time the Intent poured through her and changed the very nature of the Music into something delicate and yet profound. But even as this new theme gained momentum and strength, already the other voice was raised in competition, now actively seeking to control through overwhelming.
Suddenly, with a chord that was deafening and soul-searing, the Music ceased; and the voice of the Intent rolled through her, naming itself as Ilúvatar and the other voices collectively as Ainur and then gave each individual voice - except her - its own name. It announced the owner of the competing voice as Melkor, and then pronounced Melkor as the most powerful of them all. It began to show the Ainur what had been accomplished through the power and majesty of their Music: the beauty of the mind of Ilúvatar as manifest in the new World and the colors and substances that filled that World. And Ilúvatar revealed the pinnacle of his Intent, drawing back and allowing them to glimpse Children - Children who would walk and live in the World eventually.
Each of the voices seemed drawn to one particular aspect of this new World, as if drawn to lend willing, deliberate effort to crafting the world more completely in preparation for the Children. Ulmo, the deepest voice, was drawn to the waters; Aulë to the shining minerals that lay hidden. Manwë was drawn to the stuff of the air, Yavanna to the growing things. As each discovered their separate minstrelsies, each seemed to grow in understanding what Ilúvatar wished for them to accomplish and strive harder. She, on the other hand, while still unnamed, found herself drawn to the places where the light did not seem to penetrate; those places which seemed abandoned by the rest.
All of the others with whom she had sung seemed to delight more in the Light, but the Darkness was cool; it soothed and caressed her, speaking of mysteries and secrets. She could feel the fear and confusion of the others swell at this contrary choice of hers, even as she felt and heard the command of Ilúvatar that lit the Flame Imperishable and set forth Arda - the World that Is - like a gem. Drawn she was to this Arda, and yet she hesitated within the comforting chill of her Darkness.
Into her mind, now, came the voice of Ilúvatar, soft and intimate. To you, child of my Intent, is given a different, more difficult task. Even as it was necessary to destroy the perfection of the Void to allow this new World to come into being, each act of Creation will necessarily require some act of Destruction to precede it. Were this not so, the Void itself would fill eventually with all that is to come until Creation itself becomes All There Is. It is only meet that such necessary acts of Destruction take place in darkness and mystery; for the very acts of Creation themselves are mysteries revealed, and your works must and will balance them. Take, then, this Darkness, and make of it a crucible from which the stuff of Creation can spring.
She rejoiced, realizing now that she had been given her understanding and inspiration for her own minstrelsy. But Lord, she wondered in reply, have I no name, like the others?
Child of my Intent, my Darkest Daughter, just as the processes of your domain are the remote and secret corners of my Intent, your true name must remain hidden and secret as well. Never fear, however; in time, the World will name you. Join your brothers and sisters in Arda, Daughter, and know that you are as much a part of it as any of them.
Content that she had not been overlooked - that her lack of a name was part of her Dark Nature now revealed to her - she settled into her element within the bounds of Arda and began to make of both her own abode.
The company of those who had chosen to dwell and labor in this New World did not remain unified in their intents any better than they had in the singing of the Music that had brought it forth. Melkor ever sought to control and rule the others, claiming the New World to be of his holding alone. In answer, Manwë summoned together all others now bound to Arda, even the lesser spirits - Valar, they now were called, and the lesser spirits Maiar - and refuted Melkor's claim. In her heart, she agreed that Melkor had overstepped himself greatly; for had not she as well as all her other brothers and sisters labored hard within their separate realms to nurture and grow the World to be suitable for Ilúvatar's Children? Together, she and the rest of the Valar repudiated him and sent him forth.
Over the course of this first fractious reunion, she discovered herself much like the others who chose to immerse themselves in Arda: knowing the forms of the Children to be pleasing to Ilúvatar, she garbed herself in similar manner. When she moved among her brothers and sisters - although it only happened very rarely - she knew her raiment to be pleasing to them as well. She had used her chosen element and wove it about her. Her hair became a curtain of silky Darkness that hung nearly to her feet, her skin had a hint of Darkness that, in the light of the New World's fires, appeared a warm contrast to the pale and shining garb of her siblings. In her dark eyes, however, shone the same glimmer of vision and understanding that all of them shared.
But when alone, she walked without raiment, for the Darkness was all she needed and there was no need to be anything other than what she was. And as the World - and all of those who were bound to it - entered the stream of Time, she found that Ages could pass for her in the solitude of her beloved Darkness. From that stronghold, she could watch the comings and goings of her siblings and, gently and quietly, make room among that which had already been wrought for what was to come.
She knew, from the Music that still surrounded her, that her fellow Valar appreciated her help; but she could also begin to sense that their unease at her willingness to take that which was already wrought and destroy it without compunction was growing. Knowing this, she withdrew deeper into her shadows and Darkness, eschewing their company when all would gather. So must have been the Intent of Ilúvatar, she decided, that part of the difficulty set before her would be her estrangement of all her own kind.
As the argument and combativeness between Melkor and the Valar went back and forth, she discovered that the power of the enmity expressed between each left gaps and passageways through the slowly evolving World. Delighted with this, she spent untold time exploring these winding mazes of space so conveniently filled with soothing Darkness, rejoicing in the silent, secret manner in which Darkness was finding ways to insinuate itself into this light-intensive world and in the creatures that began to share the Darkness with her now.
And yet, she could not ignore or shirk the other task that had been appointed to her. From the shelter of her Darkness, she could still listen to songs and labors of her brothers and sisters; and she would quietly, gently, ruthlessly clear the path of what was in the way of the next act of Creation or renewal or change that was to come. She did not understand the thinking of her siblings; why could they not see that the way had to be made to make a place for their efforts? Their responses to her work no longer included gratitude, but rather fear and disgust.
They do not understand you. They are the poorer for it, but do not understand that either.
Where did that come from? She hesitated - and remembered. She knew that voice well. It was one she had heard often enough before; heard and hesitated, tempted to join her harmony to that one: Melkor.
Their minds are closed; they do not consider anything outside what they have chosen to understand.
That was certainly true and growing more and more definite with each necessary intrusion of her lovely Darkness into their accursed Light. And yet, you understand? she sang softly and hesitantly.
Have they not also tried to relegate me to Darkness? was the response. I only wish to see that all happens as it is destined. I am the most powerful, even Ilúvatar named me thusly; is it not possible that I might know more of Ilúvatar's Intent than they?
Quickly, she closed her mind away from his and took note of his words. Melkor had obviously lost none of his arrogance since his rebuke by the others. But, then, why should he have? Had not the Valar, their siblings, withdrawn their fellowship from him in much the same way they now had withdrawn it from her? Perhaps they were jealous of Melkor - or simply didn't understand him? Could it be so simple?
None of us know the fullness of Ilúvatar's Intent, she answered finally. But…
It was a heretical thought, totally in contradiction to everything she had thought before. But now, after being shunned and denied the gratitude for all of her hard work to make room for the newer creations, she finally had cause to question. But perhaps you know more of it after all. Do you truly claim this?
She could hear the very soft echoes of satisfaction. Is such a thing so hard to believe? Is it any more difficult to understand than the need for Darkness and the powers of Destruction? To the both of us, Ilúvatar has given difficult tasks and choices: of both Creation and Destruction; but to the others has only been given such simplicity as smaller minds can understand - the powers of Creation alone.
Was she really that similar to Melkor? The very idea that she might have companionship, after the Ages she had spent alone in her Darkness, was intoxicating. You find the Darkness comforting, as I do?
I have learned not to fear it. It serves a function, as does every other element of Arda.
You do understand! Her joy at the very thought that she could speak of her Darkness, of the task appointed her by Ilúvatar, made her feel as if she were young again and just newly discovered of her voice in the Music.
Does it please you, to know that you need no longer be alone in the Darkness?
You… you would enter the Darkness willingly? None of the others had come anywhere near her Darkness - ever.
I am already here.
And this time, when Melkor began his song, she ignored everything else being sung and harmonized her voice with his unapologetically. Suddenly she thrilled to the surety that he had wrapped his very essence around and into hers, joining with her in a way that surpassed even the harmony they shared through their song. Finally she knew, after long Ages, that she was no longer alone; and she rejoiced.
How long has it been since you have left the Darkness, my lady?
She paused in her enjoyment of having Melkor's entire being wrapped around and through hers again after yet another long separation. Such congress had become the highlight of their relationship when they were together, even as Melkor had reported most of the other Valar had joined in pairs as well - male with female. Time has very little meaning here, my lord; you know this. Why? What have you seen since last we were together?
It seems that Aulë has recently crafted an abomination - lamps that mimic the Flame Imperishable and cast Light into nearly every corner of Arda. Melkor's voice shook so much with rage, he could hardly hold his tones steady. You will find it more difficult to do your work now - the Darkness has receded from many places that you are accustomed to walking unseen.
She sniffed. It would be Aulë who would do such a thing. He had taken unto himself the very foundations of Eä, and then prided himself on his skill in crafting things derived from the substances found in that foundation. Ilúvatar allows this?
Ilúvatar does nothing to hinder or help any longer. He sits back and watches only. After everything, he has abandoned Arda to the Valar - to the others, that is.
The thought was disturbing. Surely not abandoned! Ever has he informed us of his Intent; we know we prepare the way for His Children…
His Children! Melkor hissed. We labor constantly for His Children, and yet you and I, who also labor for them, receive so very little gratitude for our efforts; not from the others, and certainly not from Ilúvatar. How is it come about that we continue in our darker tasks, as appointed, and yet share in none of the blessings?
Blessings? What in Eä was he talking about now?
Yes, blessings. She worked hard not to flinch at the bitterness that flooded their joined essences. The others assume even the right to tell you what to do in your Darkness now, do they not? They enjoy the blessings of knowing themselves Lords of Eä, as beloved of Ilúvatar, uncontested rulers of All That Is. How is it, do you think, that you and I have suddenly been robbed of our rightful places as equal Lord and Lady of Arda?
We would not be denied…
My sweet and foolish one; we are already denied. Those lamps force back the Darkness, restricting that part of Arda to which you would be most comfortable inhabiting; and in so doing, seek to bind us both.
They fear the Darkness, it is true; but why do you say…
Melkor's essence seemed to heat to the point that it almost burned her, within and without. Go without and see for yourself what our brothers and sisters have wrought in a World that we all are supposed to share without even a by your leave. His essence then withdrew from her so abruptly that its loss was painful. Go. You need to discern the truth for yourself. I already know what awaits you; I will be here to soothe and heal you when you return.
She gazed in the direction of the opening in Arda that led into the Light. Was Melkor telling her the truth? She moved forward, and grew alarmed as she did; for the Light that now poured through that hole in the side of the mountain was now brighter and warmer than anything she'd ever experienced since drawing into her beloved Darkness and away from the Flame Imperishable Itself.
You should probably shield yourself, my lady. The light from the infernal Lamps burns.
She could feel the heat already. I've seen enough, she told him. I have no wish to leave the Darkness. You speak the truth.
You need to see, he insisted angrily. How can you know full extent of the truth if you do not test it for yourself?
I can see enough from here. I do not need to burn myself to prove your words more fully.
Shield yourself, and you will not burn. You will need this shield in future in order to do your appointed task anyway; why do you hesitate to create what you will need?
Create? She could feel her entire being hesitate. Not once had she Created anything. Did she even possess the wherewithal to do so? Quickly she hid away those thoughts; it would not do to expose her weakness to Melkor. He needed to see her as strong and capable. But he was right: the Light burned, and she would need to protect herself if she hoped to move in it at all. What was she going to do?
I would take my time and design my shield carefully, she hedged. This I cannot do if you insist I leave the Darkness now. Once designed, this shield I will probably never remove again.
Melkor's voice grew soft and tender. But if you never remove it, I would not be able to touch you again, my Dark Lady. Is that what you truly want?
I did not say that my shield would prevent you… Still, she ached from the heat of Melkor's temper. Could the burn of Aulë's lamps be any worse?
You would deny the blending of our essences by refusing to remove your shield to me.
Rather, you would refuse to enter the shelter of my shield to blend our essences. I do not understand you, my Dark Lord. You would force me to Create, and then deny me the sanctuary when you visit lest I be denied your touch.
She turned from him and moved away from the burning brightness that was the outer World with its hideous Lamps. This was becoming a habit with him, arguing and coercing her to do things as he wished them to be done; and the few times she had resisted before, he had threatened her with the loss of his presence as well. As much as she craved him in the long spaces of time when he was about his own business, she didn't like the idea she was being manipulated.
I do this for your own good, my Dark Lady. My Intents are more aligned with…
And how many times had she heard "I do this for your own good," as if she were a simpleton or unintelligent? I sometimes wonder, she hissed back, finally feeling her own temper begin to rise. I am not a servant to you, regardless you treat me as such. I am Ainur, as you are, granted a task more difficult and controversial than the others can handle.
You are no servant, he said in a soft and beguiling tone. You are my Dark Lady, the only one who understands me, the only one I would ever allow to… His essence swirled about hers, warm and gentle, soothing and caring, calming and coercive. We are two of a kind, you and I. We compliment the other, both of us creatures of Darkness, neither of us given the kind of assistance that the Others were accorded. We should help each other, you and I; for no one - not the Others, not even Ilúvatar Himself - seems inclined to assist either of us in the least. But we understand each other, do we not? And does not the Darkness seem more wholesome when we are together?
She could deny him nothing when he was like this, and she gave a small sigh of pleasure as she felt herself possessed once more. And yet, a small corner of her mind opened itself and did more than just experience the joining; it sought out the center of Creative force nestled deep within his essence and absorbed a tiny piece of it for herself, locking it away in a far and close corner of her most hidden being, where it could not be found by its progenitor unless she so desired.
After all, why should she not also share in the powers of Creation that had been given even the likes of Melkor? It wasn't entirely fair for Ilúvatar to give to her the more difficult task of knowing when, where and why to Destroy to make way for the New without also sharing the ability to Create within the Darkness! I take only that which should have been accorded me in the first place! she told herself with a rush of defensiveness, holding the thought as close and secret as the Creative force she had stolen. Ilúvatar should not have forgotten me in that way!
Then, contented with the idea that she had righted a great wrong against her perpetrated by the Creator Himself, she relaxed and luxuriated in the regard and companionship and pleasure that came only with being with Melkor. Two could play at the manipulation game; and she'd been learning the rules of the game from the Master. The time rapidly approached when she would have to practice what she'd been taught.
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.