This Time It's Different
by Nixie Genesis
“...he came striding back, Lord of Utumno, a black shape of hate, visiting the places of his humiliation with revenge.” - HoME, The Darkening of Valinor.
For the Silmarillion 40 prompt- “Melkor and Ungoliant, Professional Party Crashers, and the Darkening of Valinor”
Fic title from “This Time it’s Different” by Evan’s Blue which is in my “Melkor” playlist. The line “I know I said, I hope I don’t upset the light you defend, but this time it’s different,” kind of seemed to go with the fic.
Silence and darkness surrounded him. Such things were not new to Melkor, yet unease settled within him all the same. He had donned a terrible form, one he wore long before his defeat and humiliation. In the dense shadow, he sought Ungoliant with purpose.
Melkor knew of the spirit of unlight, primordial and terrible, who dwelled within the shadows beyond the feet of the Pelóri and into the lightless south. Here, the shadows were even darker than Melkor’s own abode, and the light of Telperion and Laurelin went unseen. He was beyond the sight of Varda and ears of the his brother, and he would not be denied.
Her spirit seemed all around him, wreathing and vining, curious of who might be so bold as to come to her cold, dark lair. Ungoliant then seemed to become wary when she realized Melkor stood before her and she shrunk back to the shadows. Melkor sensed weakness and a hunger and knew he had the advantage.
To what do I owe this honor, oh mightiest of the Valar? Ungoliant’s spirit began to manifest before him. A set of eight eyes were first, and then legs, long with sharp barbs, appeared as she stepped from the deepest shadows. Her form, that of an enormous arachnid, dwarfed Melkor like no other being could.
“Ungoliantë,” Melkor spoke. “I come to offer you a proposition.”
And why, oh disposed one, should I listen?
“Look at you,” he said. “Starving and languishing in the shadows.You and I are not so different. We are both spirits of great power, created by our father. Yet here we stand, orphans--and for what? Because we have simply dared to find our own music? Because we seek to be free to do as we will?”
Ungoliant scoffed. You know nothing of my desires.
Melkor inched closer. “I know what it is you hunger for, I know what it is you hate, and I am willing to give it to you.” Within his hand he held two green gems, their light reflected off the creature’s eyes and his own. “These are but a taste of the feast to come.”
Between the primordial spirits, passed images of the Trees of Yavanna, of the Blessed Realm, and of the darkness that would follow.
Ungoliant came further from the shadows. I am listening.
Still in the shadows of Ungoliant’s lair, Melkor remained.
Ungoliant had eaten the gems he stole from Valinor and regained some of her power. Melkor promised her whatever she desired once the deed was done, and she had believed him. Her eyes, once only shadow, filled with gluttony and Ungoliant left in stealth to Aman.
Melkor stood for a time and removed the crown of iron he wore. The King of the Valar and Lord of Arda, they called his brother. But Manwë was no king. He sat isolated upon his mountain beyond Arda. He coveted the children of Eru as much as Melkor despised them.
Had there not been times Melkor enjoyed the elves’ company? He had sat among the Noldor and taught them wonders of stone and metals. They had looked to him as if he were a god. They were intelligent, not the wisest of creatures, but fast learners and Melkor saw use in them. There was, for a mere second in his mind, a glimmer of hope that perhaps he did belong among the Valar. But it was all for show. Befriending the elves was just another rung on his ladder to victory. It had been easier than he thought to create strife between them. His brother had been blind to the discontent Melkor created.
Manwë. The fool, Melkor thought darkly. It was at the thought of the Valar, Melkor’s fury burned bright once again.
He placed the crown back upon his head and went from Avathar before his resolve could wane. There was no turning back.
Screams heralded the failing light. As the silver light of Telperion faded and darkness shrouded the land, Melkor returned to the place where he suffered his humiliation. He remained in a form darker than the night and terrible to behold. No longer was he a prisoner of the Valar. Melkor stood before his brother’s throne within the Ring of Doom as the Lord of Utumno, the true King of Arda.
Here, he was cast down upon his knees and forced to grovel before those who had no dominion over him. Then, he was given to Mandos. Námo had tried his trickery. Memories of happier times with the other Ainur, before his discord during the Song of the Ainur, often passed through Melkor’s spirit while he languished. But Melkor was not a mere elf and the memories had little effect. Hate festered within Melkor for those three ages, and when the time came to kneel before his brother once more, Melkor prostrated himself.
“My brother,” he said, for he knew of Manwë’s desire to cure him. “Untie my hands, and I shall drink from your cup. I offer amends for all my deeds and I shall prove to you my sincerity.”
Manwë had looked more hopeful than he had in ages and Melkor almost regretted the falsity of his words. Almost. But Manwë had not seen the sneer upon Melkor’s face when both Tulkas and Ulmo protested and Mandos’ warnings were ignored.
He stepped to the judgement seat of Manwë. “Yes, brother. Let me show you how sorry I am.” Rivers of fire split his skin and with a guttural growl, he threw down the throne.
Melkor moved to Ulmo’s. “Even you shall crawl like a worm at my feet,” he snarled. The throne crumbled as it hit the marble floor.
It does not have to be this way, came a familiar thrum of bright energy through Melkor’s own spirit.
Melkor scoffed as he threw Tulkas’ throne with the same regard as Tulkas threw Melkor after their battle. “You speak as though it has ever been any different—as if I did not hear the same music.”
There is no turning back.
“And still I have chosen.”
The spirit reluctantly left him.
The thrones of the Valar lay scattered in pieces. Melkor looked upon the ruin and, satisfied, left Máhanaxar for his next mark. Ungoliant had done her part, and the Valar could have her, for he had not told her of his plans after the tree’s destruction.
Melkor sought a prize that was now, the only source of the tree’s light. The jewels were the closest he had come to the Flame Imperishable, and were created by the Spirit of Fire himself. In unlight he went to Formenos with purpose, and at all costs, he would not be denied. For with the Silmarils, none could stand against him.
Thank you to my beta, @acommonanomaly!!!
I was inspired by these quotes in the History of Middle Earth, Chapter 8 “The Darkening of Valinor”:
“But now upon the mountain-top dark Ungoliantë lay. For a while she rested, and with eyes faint from labour she saw the glimmer of the stars in the dome of Varda and the radiance of Valmar far away. Slowly her eyes wakened and took fire, and her lust increased until it overcame her fear. She began in stealth to creep down into the Blessed Realm.
Still in the dark depths Melkor stood, gnawing his mind, between evil hope and doubt; but when he had stood, revolving his chances, as long as his urgency allowed, he turned away and went down to the shore. There he cursed the Sea, saying: 'Slime of Ulmo! I will conquer thee yet, shrivel thee to a stinking ooze. Yea, ere long Ulmo and Ossë shall wither, and Uinen crawl as a mud-worm at my feet!' With that suddenly he passed from Avathar and went to do his will.”
“Outside he had lurked, until the failing of the Light announced that Ungoliantë had done her work. Then through the Kalakiryan, now only a dim ravine in walls of shadow, he came striding back, Lord of Utumno, a black shape of hate, visiting the places of his humiliation with revenge. All the land fell swiftly through grey twilight into night as Melkor stood within the Ring of Doom and cursed it; and he defiled the judgement seat of Manwë and threw down the thrones of the Valar.
Then he went on to his second mark, which he had kept secret in his mind; but Ungoliantë was aware of him, and turning swiftly she overtook him on his road. Aghast indeed was Melkor to see her, monstrous, grown to a lust and power that he could not master without aid. He could not contend with her, even if time allowed; and he could not escape. She took him into her Unlight, and they went on together to the one place in the land of the Valar that he would have hidden from her.”
With the note from Christopher Tolkien stating the reasoning Melkor was not present at the trees with Ungoliant destroyed them was that Tolkien found it unacceptable that Melkor should have risked allowing Ungoliant to come anywhere near the Silmarils. But in the end Ungoliant understood his plan and followed him.
About the Author
Nixie Genesis is a California transplant who now lives in Texas. She enjoys both writing and drawing for the Silmarillion fandom and proudly identifies as Silmtrash. When she is not busy drawing her favorite ships (or agonizing over them) she works on her original fiction. Her home is run by two tiny minions of her own making. Sometimes they allow her to write and draw, other times they demand snacks for ransom.
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