Have you ever seen the light fail and the stars fall from their foundations, as the world writhes in terror beneath your feet? Not many have, but that is what is happening as I hold him in my arms. It is strange how my hatred waned when I saw him fall to the ground, shaking like a child trapped in a nightmare, and all that remains now is pity. I ache for him, for the confusion and pain in the timeless eyes, and at first I know nothing else, only him and me, shadow and flame, as I hold him when the light grows dim.
The screams around us bear witness to what is happening; once before have I seen the unlight and I recognise it, my heart crying out in pain and sorrow. This is the end. The feared one has broken loose from the void and the world is shattering beneath our feet. I feel the battle growing around us; as a warrior through both my long lives, I know death and war better than peace – yet I hate the violence, the blood and the waste.
I look at the one in my arms, one of the mighty fallen to darkness, and I feel tears running down my face as I wonder what was first promised to the beings of light. What caused them to follow him, whom we now fear? Him, whom we hate above all others. What betrayals had twisted the proud into the abhorred? Had there been pain when shadow was added to their fires, to their souls? His face is still warm beneath my fingers, warmer than the skin of a Quendi, silken as the warm ash of a cooling fire. Is that what is left? Ashes, all life, all fire faded? That, I refuse to believe. I have seen him when he believes himself alone and I know, beyond any doubt my heart might once have held, that he is changed - what evil was once inside him is failing.
He lies in my arms, convulsions running through him as he stares emptily at the growing darkness. Can he hear his master calling from him, hissing his venom through the dark around us? If his master calls to him, I am deaf to his lies.
The clamour of metal is growing in the nothingness, the piercing call of Oromë’s horn calling us to arms for the last time, as our world is dying. Reluctantly I lower him to the ground and reach for my blade. Would it be a kindness to kill him, before the true shadow arrives? It does not matter. I know myself unable to cause him harm and so I leave him – my bane, my love – lying in the cool grass in Irmo’s garden as I listen to the call of the Valar.
My feet make their way to the middle of the field. In darkness we were born, at the strands of Cuiviénen, and in darkness we shall fall, as the world breaks. Around me they stand, my brothers, my kin from a time long past, and together we lift our swords against the approaching shadow. We will fall and we will fail, we will colour the grass red with our blood before the end and yet we do not waver.
Closer he draws, hounded by the flame of hope, the last remaining Silmaril driving him from the sky towards us, and we stand ready. How does one fight fear? I have no answer; the fear and hatred he sends over us all threatens to choke me but I remain standing when others around me fall to their knees, screaming, crying with the intensity of emotions that wash over the field. Most of them struggle to their feet once the shock subsides, pale and worn but unconquered; others bleed, red rivers running from scratched eyes, from ears and mouth as their twisting and screaming grows weaker and fades into silence. Until now I had been unaware of how pure hatred can kill us and I stand shocked. Would I have succumbed if I had not already faced my fears this night? Is my saving due to he whom I left behind, helpless, convulsing on the ground as if choked by an enemy I cannot see? I believe that this is so and my back straightens as I move toward the shadow, move to where Turin Turumbar stands, black sword in hand, next to Tulkas. Do I feel the loathing well up in me? Yes. My hatred burns bright and strong, but it will not choke me for out of fire and love of light does my hatred come. I hate him for what he has done to the proud, I hate him for the darkness he has twisted into beings of flame, for my love; I hate him, but not for myself.
His smile is terrible as it penetrates the darkness, terrible for its strength and majesty, terrible for its beauty - and for a moment I waver. I was taught to revere beauty, to venerate the Valar and to honour strength. Is that why we never defeated him, are our weaknesses for beauty and power holding us back, twisting us into something less than we could be? All hesitation passes. No longer will I bend knee to beauty above what is right, no more will strength win over what my heart and mind tells me. Then his face turns towards me. I become aware of the music around me; in every movement, every breath, there is music, bright and clear. It soars higher and yet underneath there is the heavy beat of darkness and evil; we are all marred, our fight is without hope and we will fail. Whispers slither into my mind, asking my why the music belongs to the Valar when all of us are Ilúvatar’s children and despite myself, I listen. I listen as visions fill my mind, of a new world without weakness, of the one I love beside me, his pain and torment gone and for a moment, a short moment that feels like an eternity. Temptation overcomes me and I walk towards him, entranced by his beauty.
The screams around me fade into an odd murmur that no longer matters as I step closer to him and the unlight which I once found threatening soothes my soul as he beckons me closer. A world of strength, a new beginning after centuries in a marred world; I cannot deny him. My Lord, my Master, my God is calling to me and I must hearken to his call. I can feel his power filling my mind and I am slowly becoming more than I was as tendrils of darkness runs through my veins. My vision sharpens and I look upon him once more. How could we ever consider such beauty evil? Why did we shun the touch of him upon our souls and bodies? My breath deepens as I reach out my hand towards him. Fire is running through my blood and I desire his touch upon me, flesh and mind, blood and bone; I am his, his servant and his slave.
A warm hand wraps itself around my wrist; fire contained in flesh constrains me and holds me back. I scream in desperation and fury as my hand tries to break free, to no avail; instead my other hand is caught and held by a manacle of flesh that refuses to yield. Furiously, I fight against the one behind me, my legs kicking out, my head thrashing, connecting with his, and yet he does not move, does not waver and not once does his hold on me lessen. Desperation builds within me as he keeps me from my god, from the touch that makes my soul burn, the kiss of his hand upon my skin. I screech with hatred for whatever perversion of power thinks to restrain Glorfindel of Gondolin - and still I cannot move; his strength is greater than mine, and I am failing.
In horror, I see him surrounded by those I now abhor. I see one of the Lords of the West, the bearer of the Silmaril and the wielder of Gurthang, drenched in betrayal and blood. Screaming, struggling against my captor, I try to lunge to his defence even as I watch the black sword of Turumbar cut through the true darkness, that which I once called unlight. In shock, I see that which was unthinkable happen as my master crumbles to dust in front of me, the keening wail upon the winds screeches in my ears as he shatters and is gone.
All my power, all my strength flees from my body and I suddenly sag in the arms that hold me. My lowered eyes fasten on the strange hands, fire running bright beneath ashen skin as reality once more returns. I am afraid to breathe, afraid to turn, for I know now who stands behind me. What will I find when my eyes fall on him? Disgust at my weakness? Hatred for the evil that I suddenly found within me? Holding my breath, I turn and the world breaks.