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The Last Temptation
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The Last Temptation

Disclaimer: The characters belong to Tolkien.

Thanks to Margit for reminding me of certain old bones of contention about a certain highly controversial Maia and her actions in the First Age.


“I´m cold.”


“But I´m really cold! I cannot feel my legs anymore!”

Snow was falling in larger drops, pushed by a chilly wind that tore at the faces of the children as they advanced, closer and closer to the heart of the forest. The one who had hushed his brother stood still for a moment, and grabbed the other´s hand with an alert, fearful expression.

“They´re coming. They´re here to kill us! Don´t you hear the sound of their voices?”

“I don´t hear anything.” the other boy said, and started to cry. His brother pursed his lips in a determined expression.

“We must hurry.”

After a moment of hesitation, they clumsily continued labouring to make their way, and she followed them, trailing behind their steps. Her hands stretched to prevent the snow from hurting their cheeks. She blew to turn the air warmer around them, but her efforts, once again, did not avail her much.

Once again, her heart cried in agony.

In days past, before the evil disruption had torn everything to shreds, she and Doriath had been one. People had seen her as the merry woman holding Thingol´s hand, but he alone had fathomed something of the intrincate bonds joining her to the forest and the land, enough as to despair at times of ever knowing where she ended and they began. Back then, he had walked through the trees to find their golden foliage smiling at him with her smile, and the reflection of her pale face in the current of the enchanted river of Esgalduin. She had guided him through winding paths to the heart of all caves, and there, among flowers which grew on the rocks with the deep blue colour of her eyes, he had lain in her Maiarin embrace, though the Queen had not been there.

The day that the invaders had defiled her lands, she had been shattered to pieces. First, the Dwarves had delivered the cruellest blow to her heart, and Doriath had withered. Now, the Fëanorians had broken the spirit that lingered among the trees, and left her with the impossible task of gathering the thousands of broken tatters to protect those children from death.

Élured stumbled in silence, and his brother walked ahead for a while before intuition told him that he was not being followed. Turning back, he yelled at him to get up, pulled at him with all the might of his small frozen hands, and wept because his brother did not respond.

“They´re coming... They will take us! Élured... please...”

His knees gave way, and he fell at his brother´s side. Melian tried to reach to the bed of snow under their feet, but it was fell and alien, tainted by the wind of the North, and it refused to melt.

Élurin´s body budged a little, as if he had noticed her presence next to them. His bluish, swollen lips muttered something that was drowned under the howl of the wind, and Melian knew that they would die. Her last descendants in the world of Ilúvatar´s Creatures would never see another day.

No! Not the last, she forced herself to remember. The line of Thingol and Melian would continue, as it had been woven into the Music. The sister of those children, Elwing, would produce a mighty descendence of kings and loremasters that would last for many Ages of the Sun. Élured and Élurin would die in the forests of Doriath, and the chain of events would continue its course.

Élurin had fallen silent for a while, but it had been an attempt to gather his last forces. Embracing his brother Élured, he moved his lips again, and this time the word reached Melian.


The Maia´s spirit trembled to the core. She had walked among them for too long. Eru help her! This word... She understood this word. It held a power that none other among the Ainur would ever manage to fathom.

Would she leave those children to die? Would she stand aside while they froze to death in Morgoth´s snow, there, in her forests?

Filled with a sudden burning, consuming feyness, Melian made a decision. She could not melt the snow that covered them like earth on a mortal man´s grave, but there was something else that she could do. Briefly, a part of her inner being trembled at the price, but she forced herself to shake her fear away.

No one had suffered like her, she thought, impotent witness of the ruin of those she had loved. She remembered her husband´s corpse lying under her glance, his grey robes dripping rivers of red blood. She remembered the quenched light in her daughter´s eyes as she returned from the Halls of Mandos, holding her mortal husband by the hand. She saw Dior Aranel´s agony, slaughtered by the Fëanorians before he could fulfill his ambition of rebuilding his grandfather´s kingdom, and she raged, swearing that not even the Music would take anything away from her again.

She would do it. She would take a body.

First of all, withdrawing into herself, Melian went back in time. She focused in her memories until she saw the tall, dark foliage of the forest of Nan Elmoth closing above her, as she slithered among the trees in pursuit of her beloved. His frightened eyes belied his jaw set with pride, but soon they widened in overwhelming wonder as her brilliant essence covered him, and he begged –he, who had never begged before!- to be able to hold her in his arms.

It was then, she recalled, when she had entered his mind. First fearfully and hesitantly, then joyfully, she had unraveled its mysteries, discovering a mass of hair, dark and brilliant like the starred sky, and eyes blue like the pools of Cuiviénen. She had found white arms, a full, merry face, and a sweet voice singing the most beautiful songs of the Teleri. And then she had become that woman, the woman that he had dreamed, and stood there shrunk, cold and lost until he embraced her and she felt an intense, piercing warmth gather inside her new body.

Melian felt a mighty pull, only that this time it wasn´t a feeling of pleasure. Her old form was covering her again, marred and broken beyond recognition. She concentrated her ancient might in rebuilding and healing her hurts, and pain eventually subsided, but it was replaced by a crushing emptiness which felt even more terrible.

White hands were growing fingers, long and thin and five for each. Her efforts slowed down and stopped, and she stood gazing at them entranced by their shapes, which were so different from the ones she recalled. Voices of danger assailed her spirit with greater insistence than before, no longer mere whispers, and though she still tried not to pay heed to them, the current of visions came and swept her like the furious waters of a river in spring.

She had her body again, but not the body of the merry lady who laughed and played with the children of the Thousand Caves. It was the tall, radiant body of a powerful queen, stretching her arms towards two small children who immediately forgot the last, broken memory of Dior´s wife as she was dragged away by her silvery hair, and stared entranced at she who was more than mother, more than land, the Maia whose immortal soul was entwined with that of Doriath centuries before they came to life. She embraced them and they laughed at the new warmth, and the three returned to Thingol´s empty palace in Menegroth. Doriath was rebuilt with her power, the survivors returned in joy, and Elwing sat on her knees, smiling as she innocently offered the Silmaril to her great-grandmother.

News of this renewed prosperity did not fail to spread through the regions of Beleriand. Hearing that the Star Jewel was still in the power of the Grey Elves, the sons of Fëanor gathered again from their hunting paths to launch a second assault on the kingdom. But this time, the Maia stood up from her throne in wrath, and Elves, trees, animals and rivers alike heard her call, and they were destroyed.

After that day, the Silmaril burned her hand with an unholy fire.

In spite of the pain, Melian still kept the jewel. She had it wrought in a silver crown to adorn her brow. Her people adored her and fell to their knees at the radiant vision, but wherever she went now a ghost of remorse followed her, as deep inside she knew that it was too late to ask for the forgiveness of the Valar. No ship sought the Undying Lands from the Western shores, and the Queen of Beleriand hardened her heart against the calls.

One day, many years later, the sound of rumbling thunder filled the skies at last. Morgoth led forth his armies of Orcs, Dragons and Balrogs, and laid siege to the remaining stronghold of his enemies. The Girdle was pierced, and Melian stood face to face to the fallen Vala, trembling in fear of losing her body and having to crawl for eternity as a naked spirit in a land full of horror.

She closed her eyes, trying to gather what remained of her power after the breaking of her land. His iron mace, the powerful Grond, swished through the air, and she cowered at the sound. But the blow never came.

Slowly, Melian opened her eyes and laid them on her enemy. A powerful shiver shook her at the sight, as the Ainu who had arisen in might did not look anything like the bright and terrible Power that she remembered from the song before Time. He was hideous, charred, cloaked in darkness and crowned in an unforgiving light that made the shame and misery of his disminished body visible to all.

And still, ignorant to his own ugliness for a moment, he was laughing.

“Your hands are as black as mine.” he said.

Melian stared at her fingers, burned by the hallowed light of the Silmaril. Morgoth´s eyes gleamed in triumph, and once again he lifted the black head of the wolf over her frozen form. This time, however, she did not move even as it fell on her head, even as it drowned the last remnants of the People of the Stars in enduring darkness.

White hands. Fair hands, the colour of the falling snow.

I was also fair once. And oh, Lady of Nightingales, so much fairer than you!

In horror, Melian let them melt and fall like drops on the frozen ground.

“Mother...” Élurin whimpered, falling asleep over his brother´s chest.

And as his mouth went rigid with the last breath, and the twin spirits left the children´s bodies holding hands, the treetops around them shook with a mighty howl of mournful agony.

(the end)


Note: I do consider this quite canonical, in spite of the fact that the Silmarillion says that Melian left Middle-Earth after Thingol´s death. As long as she didn´t meet anyone since she left Menegroth, the ME Elves would hardly have been able to record the exact moment of her departure. And I consider quite plausible that a part of her would feel unable to leave for a while, and attached to the forests that she had protected for so long, where she had lived with her family- especially while her lineage was still living there. I consider that Elves have a tendence to linger and reminisce, and a Maia who had lived as an Elf had the added bonus of her connection to the essence of the forest. (At least that´s how I understand Tolkien´s text; I always felt that Melian and Eöl were kind of symbiotic with their dwelling places, which were like extensions of themselves)


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