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The Building of Celebdil
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The Apprentice

This story is the beginning of two series:

The Angwverse is about Angw the Builder, a Maia who later becomes the Balrog of Moria.

The Artreverse, which is about Artre the Watcher, who later becomes the Watcher in the Water.

Giving them titles is a conceit of mine.


At the very dawn of E, the Valar and Maiar went to Arda to shape the mass into the vision of Iluvatar. Aul the Smith went there to build mountain ranges to provide variety in the landscape. He had many followers. Among them were Artre, Sauron, and his brother Angw.

Of the three, Angw was the most focused on the task in hand. He watched in awe as Aul, with apparently little effort, caused mountains and valleys to form by the power of his will.

"Master," said Angwe, "show me how to do this, for I wish to make such structures of my own."

"If you help me with my endeavours, I will grant you your desire," Aul replied.

"I shall help you, then," Angw agreed.

Angw did all that his master asked of him, and together with the other Valar and Maiar they made Arda beautiful. Angw was pleased with the part he had played, but he wanted most to be able to create a thing of his own, that he might say, "This is the thing I have made; I, and no other. It is mine."

Now the Valar and Maiar were spirit beings that had no true, physical form save what they were willing to affect out of necessity or personal desire. Aul was pleased with Angw, and it delighted him to give his pupil what he wished for. Metaphorically, then, Aul laid his hands on Angw's shoulders and looked him in the eyes. "Concentrate," he told him. "And let your mind be in complete accord with mine."

When they were completely attuned, Aul led him in thought to the ground beneath them. He encouraged Angw to feel the ground itself, and then to sink below it, deeper and deeper until they arrived at a place where the rock was hot, then deeper still till the rock was molten. Together they encouraged it to rise and lift the ground they stood on. As the ground melted and shifted, metals and minerals were moved, and veins of ore began to form.

Angw was confused as a flood of information overwhelmed him, insistently adding more and more knowledge of the rocks and minerals and the way they interacted. Aul guided him, though, and together they shifted elements and molecules in order to raise the hills up and hold them in their new shape.

When they had finished, the land was beautiful to look upon, and all of the Ainur were pleased.


At this time, there was no sun or moon, for E was but new-formed. There were stars, but their light shone dimly, so Aul called Angw and Sauron to him and together they built the Great Lamps. They made huge pillars to put them on, which Varda lit with a holy fire. In the Isle of Almaren in the Great Lake, the light from the Lamps met and blended. This was the first dwelling of the Valar, and there they dwelt in bliss.

One night, when the Valar were feasting, Melkor came by stealth and cast down the Lamps before they were even aware that he had come. Then he withdrew to Utumno, his fortress in the far North, and called others to join him.

Sauron went at once, hoping to make the most of the opportunities afforded him by the darkness, for he too desired to be a master of realms, and to rule the wills of others.

Though others were quick to heed their master's call, there were some who feared the wrath of the Valar, or that some other consequence would fall upon them. Among them was Artre the Watcher, who refused to take sides between Melkor's forces and the Valar. He preferred to observe than take part in the events that unfolded on Arda, and secretly moved between Almaren and Utumno, bringing reports to Manw of Melkor's doings, and to Melkor of the deeds of the Valar. Neither party knew what was in Artre's heart, or that he was working for both sides.


When the Lamps fell, great was the destruction in all of Arda, and the ground writhed and twisted. The Valar had need of nearly all their strength to restrain the tumults of the earth, and they could not overcome Melkor at the time. Afterwards they feared to rend the Earth again, for they did not know where the Children of Ilvatar, who were yet to come, would awake. Thus they removed themselves to the land of Aman, the westernmost of all lands on Arda, and there set up the realm of Valinor.

Angw remained behind, furious that his great labours were now undone. He was determined to salvage what he could, and use the craft taught him by Aul to make the ruins of what was now Middle-earth into a form that could support life.

Now the earth was torn asunder by the constant earthquakes caused by the felling of the Lamps, and this made it easier for him to will the viscous lava into the shape he desired. First he needed to create a way to safely vent the fierce heat and poisonous gasses that were spewing forth from the cracks in the earth. By the force of his will he fashioned a great well from which the gasses and lava could flow freely. This eventually became the Lonely Mountain, but Angw abandoned it because it was not the beautiful thing he had envisioned.

He considered his vision again, which he had shared with Aul his master: a magnificent high mountain capped with snow overlooking a lake that mirrored its beauty. This would sit like a king with his court among the mountains in a long range. As he wandered through the ruins of Middle Earth, he saw the thing he sought.

Far to the East, a range of mountains had been forced up from the earth by the impact of the Lamp Illuin when Melkor threw it down. The ground was shattered like the shards of a colossal dinner plate. Some of the shards had tilted up, some had tilted down, and constantly bumped and ground against each other as magma bubbled up to the surface. Angw looked upon these sharp, forbidding, jagged peaks and decided that this was where he would build Celebdil, the mountain of his dreams.


When the Lamps fell, Artre was at the northernmost reaches of Arda, near Utumno, watching the monsters of Melkor as they ranged through the dark lands where the light of the Lamps was dim. He had seen Melkor go to the Lamps to destroy them, but had elected to say nothing to Manw, even though he knew what was going to happen, because he wanted to observe the destruction.

Though it thrilled him to his very depths to see what the will of Melkor could wreak, Artre did not warn him when the Valar came in wrath. Instead, the Watcher stood aside as Melkor fled to Utumno.

Afterwards, Artre discovered Angw at work on Celebdil and watched him, fascinated by the determination of the Maia to bring forth beauty out of the ruins of Middle-earth. He hid himself among the rocks and crevices, the better to observe this scion of Aul. Whom he would give his report to depended on the outcome.



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