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The Building of Celebdil
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Artíre's Report

Melkor's use of Archaic English is a conceit I gave him to make him seem remote and godlike.


Angwë stood on the pinnacle of the jagged shard he proposed to make into his mountain. He saw that his volcano was helping to stabilise the land mass by venting the gasses and magma. Below him, the broken ground had coalesced in places, forming stable plates of rock that would eventually support life.

Where he was standing, the hot rock was still malleable. Angwë concentrated and willed the entire range to sink into the ground, expand at the base and hold together as a mass. He sank down in thought and moved layers here and there to support the structure. As he did so, he became aware that the inside of the mountains were not solid all the way through. Pockets of gas and air had formed cavities within them.

At first, he was afraid they might collapse. If the weight-bearing layers were friable, the whole range could implode. Anxiously he made his way through it, layer by layer, until he was satisfied that there was no structural damage. There was, however, a most intriguing cavern system. Long years he worked on this, experimenting with dissolving limestone in water until stalactites and stalagmites had formed. Finally, he made his way outside the cavern system, and went to complete his masterpiece.

He looked around until he saw the spot he had seen in his vision. There he would delve a hole that would eventually fill with water. The lake would reflect the beauty of the peak that loomed above it. This was what he had desired from the first, and his heart thrilled at the thought.

Meanwhile, Artíre had been watching him. He had followed Angwë's every move, trying to discern a pattern he could report to either Melkor or Manwë. At the moment, all he could do was wait until Angwë had ceased his labours.

He seemed intent on making a mountain range – no, a mountain – of his very own. Did Angwë intend to set himself up as a lord like Melkor, or was he acting on the orders of the Valar? Artíre remained in hiding and watched the other Maia work.

Angwë did not behave as one who sought power over other wills. If this was indeed his desire, he would have either cozened others into joining him or created monsters to thwart or mock the works of the Valar. But Angwë had never been a friend of Melkor; indeed he had opposed him from the start, and joined Aulë as a servant instead. Had he done this to learn the secrets of construction so he could build things for his own benefit?

If he had been following orders from the Valar, some of them would have come with him to work on the mountains. He would certainly not have been alone in his endeavours. Artíre made his judgement: Angwë was building the mountain for his own pleasure, and apparently for no other reason or purpose. He did not desire lordship, at least for the moment. He was most likely on the side of the Valar. Now who would he tell? He considered this, and made a decision. He would go first to Melkor.


Angwë put the finishing touches to his mountain and rested from his labours. He was delighted with what he saw, but since there was no-one to share his pleasure with, he decided to seek his master and to tell him what he had done. He went back to Almaren, which was by this time unrecognisable. Most of it was drowned in the new Helcar Sea, and there was no trace of the Valar there.

His volcano was still spewing smoke and ash, so it was unlikely that the Valar would return soon. The ground on which he stood was much more stable, though. He turned westwards and beheld something new. Beams of golden and silver light swung around in every direction, illuminating the world. Angwë smiled. The Valar had begun to mend the hurts of the world. Further west, he saw that small seedlings were beginning to grow. He took a small budding leaf and went made his way towards the lights.

Artíre sought Melkor in his stronghold, Utumno. It was easy enough to find: only rank and poisonous weeds grew in that wasteland. Monsters prowled in the perilous forests. As he drew near to the fortess itself, the fissured rocks became a maze to frighten and confuse those who ventured there. He made his way to Thangodorim, the highest peak of the mountains, and waited.

Sauron crept up behind him from a secret passage. "Greetings!" he said.

Artíre slowly turned around. Sauron appeared to be alone.

"Artíre, I believe," Sauron said in affable tones. "Come, we have things to discuss."

Artíre followed him without a word.

Sauron led him down a network of cracks and crevices until they arrived at a gate guarded by two Balrogs. In this haunt of fear, lit by flickering torches in sconces of horn and bone, the very shadows appeared to be watching them as they made their way through the dank tunnels. After a while, they arrived at a place deep inside the complex where no torches burned. Light was provided by furnaces, forges, and small fires on which cauldrons or turning spits were set. Monstrous creatures crouched and snarled in cages and stalls, or strained at chains attached to the walls.

At last they arrived in a vast cavern and went over to a high dais crowned with a throne of bones bound together with iron bands. Wide steps of stone lay before it so that supplicants could make their grovelling obeisance at successive levels. The throne itself was shrouded in shadow, and a great darkness surrounded it.

Sauron and Artíre stood before it, bowed, and waited for a response. After a while, Sauron straightened up. "Greetings, my Lord," he said, "Artíre thy servant is come to report to thee."

"I greet thee, Melkor, Lord of Utumno," Artíre said in neutral tones, "and bring thee this report: Angwë Sauron's brother hath remained in Middle Earth, and hath worked for the restraining of the tumults of the earth thou hast wrought. He hath fashioned a mount of fire like unto Ered Engrin to let the heat from the rents in the earth escape. This hath calmed the writing of the ground, and living things now grow in the outermost parts of the land near where Illuin fell. Moreover, he hath wrought a mountain out of the shards of the earth that remained. He hath taken one mount of the range and fashioned it after his own desires, and there he dwelleth, still contemplating it. He seeketh not after power or dominion that I can discern, but to take a portion of the world and name it unto himself. What he will decide to do thereafter, I do not know."

Melkor was hideous to behold. His eyes were like a flame that withered with heat and pierced with a deadly cold. His features were gnarled and twisted with hate, and as he leaned towards Artíre, a foul miasma of hatred and fear overwhelmed the Maia, who fought for self-control against a desperate urge to flee.

"Dost thou know if Manwë or Aulë have approved these actions?" Melkor asked him.

"I know not, my Lord," Artíre replied with a shudder, "indeed, it may be that when they discover what he hath done, they may well be displeased that he did not aid them instead of doing as he wished. He hath neither spoken to them nor sought the assistance of others. All he hath done he hath done for himself, I deem."

Melkor turned to Sauron. "He is thy brother," he said, "knowest thou his mind?"

"I know not, my Lord," Sauron answered smoothly, "for my heart was ever bound to thee, and I did not keep company with any who opposed thee."

"Go now, Artíre,” said Melkor, “and continue thy watch upon him. See what else thou canst discover about his mountain and his intentions concerning it. It may be that I will find a use for it."



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