It was a particularly dark and gloomy day when Morgoth, Sauron, Angwë and Artíre took counsel together at Angband. Misery permeated the atmosphere, bitterly spiced with a horrible sensation that something had gone completely wrong. Sitting uncomfortably in Morgoth's private reception room, they discussed the events at Lonnath in Sirion and the ramifications of the loss of the Silmaril. They had come so close to retrieving it for their master, but it had been snatched from their grasp. Morgoth wanted answers.
"Ye have all failed me," Morgoth spat his Maiar servants. "Whence has the stolen Silmaril been taken? Surely ye know! Ye have all utterly failed me!"
"My Lord," Sauron tried to reason, "we yet have the twain, they are still in thy crown."
"Aye," Morgoth countered, "and a pretty sight they be, but Maedhros our chief enemy considereth even now how to wrest them from me. He believeth in his heart that I am grown dotard, and ye are but clowns that serve to amuse me. And so ye are! Behold, ye have indeed rid me of the Elvenkings Fingon, Thingol and Turgon, but their seed doth endure. Their line continueth! I forsee that they shall eventually precipitate our doom, yea, even to the death of deaths!"
Silence filled the room like cold water poured into a goblet.
Angwë spoke up, "My Lord, what preparations can we make for our defense? For lo! I perceive thou seeth rightly indeed, and we must make ready for the assaults of our foes. Ever have I seen that the Silmarils would be our bane..."
Sauron gasped in horror and slapped him hard. "You dare to speak ill of them?" he asked incredulously.
"Let him speak," Morgoth said, surprising them all, "for though he speaketh from the trouble of his heart he speaketh aright. Verily the light that shineth so fair from them deriveth from the light of the Two Trees of the Valar. I had hoped to discover therein the secret of the Flame Imperishable from which all life taketh its existence. Think ye that I take pleasure in all of this? I have ruined all that was made by the Valar because I hated them. Envious I was of the favour they had received of the One while I myself was forbidden the rule of a realm of mine own. Fain would I have made objects and people of wondrous beauty, but this was denied me; so I worked to the despite of them all, yea, even of mine own brethren, who now seek to enchain me again."
"My Lord," Artíre asked, "could it be that we may use the Silmarils that remaineth to entrap those who seek them? Behold, all who look upon them are caught up in their spell, and desire them even unto their own doom. Behold, brother hath turned against brother and contendeth with him for the sake of these. Therefore could we make murderers of any, be they ever so virtuous. Send me, and I will whisper unto them of the Oath of Fëanor and the consequences thereof."
Morgoth considered this. Though their plans had ultimately led to little more than a series of burial mounds and burnt-out city ruins, the one thing they had been successful in was the subversion of proper relationships. Using pride, greed and guilt, they had brought all Elvendom to its knees. The only followings with any power now were those of Maedhros at Himring and of Círdan at the Isle of Balar. These had been sundered by the recent Kinslaying at Lonnath, by the Mouths of Sirion. "Our hope, then," he said quietly, "is in despair. They will not unite now, not even to defend themselves from us. Let the Orcs breed, and Dragons and Balrogs alike prepare for war. Let the Valar come if they will. We will be waiting for them, and together we will bring destruction to this Middle Earth."
Some time later, Artíre rushed into the throne room at Angband, anxious to bring a report to his master.
“Hail, Artíre. What news?” asked Morgoth, leaning forward. He needed good news, and at the moment, it was scarce.
“I bring grim tidings, my lord,” replied the Watcher. “I know where the stolen Silmaril is now.”
Morgoth sighed, shaking his scarred head. “It is in the hands of the Valar, Artíre. I could have told thee so. Did Elwing not leap from the cliff with it in her grasp? Ulmo, who hath rule of the sea, loveth the Elves and looketh ever to their welfare. Didst thou not tell me of the rumour that the Peredhel did fly like an albatross into the arms of her husband Eärendil? They bore it to Valinor. For this deed, it may well be that they will be permitted to dwell on some isle near the sacred shores, never permitted to set foot there. Such is the fate of those who serve the Valar and do their will!”
“Nay, my lord,” said Artíre. “Go out and look to the skies. There wilt thou see the Silmaril, for it has been set there as a star that moveth Westwards every night.”
Morgoth stood up. “Prepare ye for battle. They are coming. Artíre, call the Spiders from their hiding places and send them into the forests to harry my foes. Whisper unto mine enemies and turn them against each other to prevent them from uniting against me. Remind them of the Oath of Fëanor, the keeping of which hath ever brought more benefit to us than it ever did to them.”
The Watcher bowed and left the room.
The Dark Lord turned to Angwë. “Call the Trolls, Orcs and Goblins. Send them into the hills and help them to dig traps and build walls. Arm them well and lead them into battle. Go forth and engage in battle with the forces of the Valar, sending Easterlings against Men, Orcs against Elves and Spiders at them all. I will aid ye by causing Ered Engrin to spew fire and smoke, making a roof of smoke and ash that will permit mine host to fare forth in the hours of daylight.”
The Balrog bowed and left the room, obeying his lord.
Morgoth called Sauron. “Bring forth thy Werewolves and my Balrogs. Thou wilt keep this stronghold against our foes, and supply mine host with all they shall require. I shall wear down mine enemies in a war of attrition which will last for many lifetimes of Men.”
In Beleriand, the once fair lands suffered much as war wreaked its havoc upon it. The formerly verdant fields were striated with defensive trenches and pits. Long scratches were gouged into them by huge wheeled catapults and other assault machines as they were dragged along. Earthen and stone ramparts were raised to protect troops from both sides, and bodies and wreckage lay littering the once fair meadows.
Great hosts of Elves and Men fought for many years against the forces of Morgoth, heartened by the presence of Eonwë, herald of the Valar. Even the Kinslayers did their share, heeding not the whispers of Artíre, whose voice grew ever more strident as he reminded them of their Oath.
“Elwing took but one Silmaril with her when she leapt into the sea,” the Watcher reminded them. “The two that remain are in the crown of Morgoth. If a Man and an Elf-maid could so easily break into Angband to steal them, what keeps you from doing the same?”
“We will go to that thieving monster when we have aided those we have done so much to harm,” Maedhros replied in thought, believing it was his own guilt he addressed.
“Murderer!” Artíre accused. “You slaughtered babes in arms in the name of the Oath! Have you no shame for the evil deeds you did? Know you not that any of those people you now try to aid will turn on you and slay you if they see you?”
“Morgoth is a monster and a maker of monsters,” Maedhros replied, “and we are also monsters of his making. Let him take his share of the blame for what we have done. Had he not stolen the Silmarili, there would have been no Oath, and we would have our father and our home in Valinor still.”
Frustrated, Artíre knocked on the door of Maglor's heart, hoping for success there. “Your brother's resolve to keep the Oath grows weak,” he insinuated, hoping to break their bond by fomenting discord.
“'Tis in the keeping of the Oath that we have both grown weak,” Maglor replied gloomily. “No-one will receive us with honour any more. Were it not for the Oath, we would have friends in every town and village on Middle-earth. As it is, we are hated by some and despised by all.”
“Morgoth may receive you yet as friends, since you have none among your own kind,” Artíre suggested, hoping to win them over. “If you relinquish all hope of regaining the jewels, you will find a warm welcome in Angband.”
“Aye,” replied Maglor, “in the fires of Ered Engrin! We have done enough to anger him as much as anyone, and I will never believe the word of the one who bears the most responsibility for the troubles we have endured for so long! Did he not kill our father and our father's father? Why would he spare us? If redemption can be won by daring deeds, we shall earn as much as we can in the hope of being permitted to be numbered at least among the lowest of the Elves.”
Artíre went away, discouraged. Every argument he advanced was trumped by the reasoning of the sons of Fëanor. 'Hope and despair war with equal strength within them, and this makes them fell indeed on the battlefield,' he complained to himself. 'If my efforts go awry with them, I shall go to those people whose grudge against the Kinslayers has not diminished, though ages have passed since those fell deeds were done.'
In the ear of Gil-galad, High King of the Elves, the Watcher whispered, “The forces of Morgoth close in on every side. If you do justice on the sons of Fëanor, giving them what their deeds deserve, the Elves will rally more swiftly to your flag.”
“I need them on my side, for they are fierce in battle,” Gil-galad replied, thinking he addressed his inner self. “Besides, Eonwë, herald of the Valar, is here. I dare not do anything that might make him think badly of me. It is the Valar who will judge the Kinslayers. It is not for me to do, whatever my rank among Elves.”
“But what of your obligations to the Elves who were harmed by them? If they are slain by the forces of Morgoth, would that be justice?” Artíre pleaded.
The Watcher was getting desperate now, for being ignored was making him irrelevant in the war. If he could no longer persuade Men and Elves, what good was he to his master, except as a spy or another soldier? His reputation would suffer and he would lose his standing at Angband. The idea that he would be perceived as a failed troublemaker was not one that sat well with him. He must succeed, but how? If he could only turn Gil-galad against the Kinslayers so that he would not merely tolerate them but actively seek him out to attack them, Morgoth would win a great victory by default. There would certainly be fewer enemies to contend with the Dark Lord.
“Let justice attend to itself,” Gil-galad replied. “I have many battles to fight ere mere justice can be considered at all. The needs of the moment far outweigh the considerations of even the most worthy of causes.”
Giving up on the High King, Artíre sought out other Elves, hoping to find even one who might see things the way he wanted, but without success. The presence of a common enemy put all vendettas aside, with no hope of prosecution until the war against Morgoth had been decisively won. “Curse Elves and Men and all their virtues!” Artíre roared into the night. “Are there none who value furious vengeance over the common good?”
No-one answered, and any who heard the Watcher mistook him for a blast of wind or a roll of thunder. It was this, more than anything else, that annoyed the Watcher. The best he could do, in the end, was encourage the Orcs and other monsters to fight to the utmost of their abilities. In that, at least, he did not fail, though he dared not return to Morgoth.
In the hills and mountains, Angwë's efforts bore some fruit, but he was frustrated by the fact that few people fell into his traps and that none of them would go to the mountains when there were enemies enough on the plains. He had to move down there, away from places of relative safety, to engage them. Moreover, the weapons provided by the Valar were superior to his, inscribed with runes of protection for Elves and Men, but with doom for their enemies. Sometimes one thrust of a sword or a spear was enough to destroy even a Balrog. Many of them perished, and Angwë began to know fear as Morgoth knew it.
He dared not think of his mountain. Indeed, it had mostly slipped his mind. Morgoth rode his heart and soul like a Man riding a horse, turning him this way and that, according to his will. Angwë's thoughts were no longer his own, and the more desperate Morgoth became, the more Angwë felt it. He held his lines as best he could, but the Host of the Valar overcame him at last, and he was forced to retreat.
To Angband he went, with the vanguard of Morgoth's forces, to shore up the defences there in case of a siege. When he arrived, all was in chaos.
Making his way to the throne room, Angwë presented himself to his lord.
“Hail, Angwë, what news?” Morgoth asked, clearly desperate to hear something to lift his despair.
“My lord,” said Angwë, “I dread to tell thee, but the news is fell. The forces of the Valar and their allies have overrun Beleriand, and most of thy Balrogs, Spiders, Trolls and other monsters have been slain. We have retreated here, the better to defend thee. They are coming!”
“All is not yet lost,” replied Morgoth, a wicked grin spreading over his haggard, scarred face. “I have a new weapon, a new monster not seen before in Middle-earth. Let them come, for when they arrive, we will be waiting for them. Have you any word of Artíre?”
“No, my lord,” Angwë told him, “but I doubt he has fallen. Our enemies have grown more virtuous in the presence of the Eonwë, herald of the Valar. Methinks they mean to impress him in the hope of bringing more of the divine ones hither. The Watcher's mission to turn the Elves against each other has failed, so he spends his time turning Orcs and others towards thee and to the battles they must fight if they are even to survive this war. Those efforts are indeed meeting with success. Those commanders and others he hath encountered speak of inspiration to a greater commitment to thee.”
“It is well,” said Morgoth, “that Artíre doth make some contribution to the war, when his other efforts availeth him not. Would that others of my commanders and soldiers could bend their thoughts to the benefit of my cause as he hath done. Go now and see what thou canst do to build up mine host, for our enemies draw near to the gates, and the siege will soon begin.”
Bowing as he left the room, Angwë went throughout the stronghold, taking an inventory of all the troops and equipment he could in order to develop a strategy for the defence of Morgoth's realm.
There was no provision for the healing of the wounded, the weakest simply went to the wall because they had always been easy to replace. Now this was causing a problem because, while Men and Elves had healing tents to tend to the wounded and aid their recovery for their return to the battlefield, Angband had not. Therefore, when they lost Orcs or Balrogs, they had to breed more. Morgoth was already too depleted to be willing to risk creating more Balrogs. Besides, there were no longer any Maiar on Middle Earth who might be willing to join the losing side. Orcs were their only hope now. They took two years to breed, but that was two years they no longer had.
Deep in the bowels of the stronghold, Angwë discovered Morgoth's new weapon. The Dragons he had seen before were great Worms with mighty scales and iron teeth and claws. They could breathe fire, but they could not fly. Morgoth, by dint of continual experimentation, had finally created the apex of his ingenuity: the flying Dragon. Ancalagon the Black would take wing at the opportune time, break the siege and clear the way for his fellow flying Dragons to rout the enemy once and for all.
Back in the throne room, Angwë reported to Morgoth. “My lord,” he said, “the situation is grim, but we can hold out for some time. Orcs we have, but are fewer in number than we need. Two years we need to breed each one, and I fear that time may not be enough to build the strength we need. The Winged Dragons are a great boon, and may yet prove our salvation. I ask that thou wouldst consider this request: we need to make provision for healing the wounded, that they may be returned to the battlefield instead of being left to die.”
“Do what thou wilt,” replied Morgoth, “for I am making thee commander of the outer defences. Sauron I need to aid me in the making of more monsters, and in improving those I have. Do thine office well, and I will reward thee.”
Choking on the dust and ash outside the gates of Angband, the Host of the Valar took their positions. Already they had seen things that were so foul and ugly, they would never forget them. Vile deeds had been done to those who did not die straight away on the battlefields of Beleriand, and the vast majority of the Host had come not just to put an end to the oppression of Morgoth, but to avenge themselves and their friends. It had to end, once and for all in a final, decisive victory; and if Morgoth would not repent, he would have to be punished. Few of the people surrounding the realm of the Dark Lord had his welfare at heart. Most of them wanted him to refuse any offer of redemption so he would be cast into the Void forever, and they would never have to deal with him again. Some of them remembered how he had smiled at them when feigning friendship when he dwelt in Valinor, and would never be able to trust him even if he truly repented.
Eonwë made his way to the gates and shouted, "Melkor, now called Morgoth, come forth! Come hither and surrender, that justice may be done upon you! Great is the evil you have done. Come forth now or you shall surely fall in ruin with all you have made."
The parapets appeared to leer at him, sticking up like teeth in an old pervert's mouth. Eonwë shuddered. The purity and light of Valinor had not prepared him for the experiences he had suffered. Horrible sights afflicted his memories daily, tumbling through his consciousness like a rock rolling down a mountainside, dragging others with it. The sooner this was over, the better.
Morgoth answered him not, but Sauron came up and stood on a platform above the main gates. “Who are you to oppose the strongest of the Valar? A mere herald? Or have you been promoted, Eonwë?”
“Sauron!” shouted Eonwë. “Is this the best you can do? Of all the great deeds you planned to do, the magic you declared you would impress us all with, the best you can manage is the torture and murder of innocents using the twisted wreckage of the Firstborn? What profit is there in that? Come, now. Surrender to us, and you will receive mercy.”
Sauron laughed. “I have a gift for you, Eonwë,” he said. “Stretch out your hands to receive it!” With that, he threw open the gates, releasing the Dragons. Ancalagon the Black rose up behind him, flapping huge feathery wings.
Screaming in terror, the Host scattered to the four winds as the Dragons wreaked havoc among them, breathing torrents of fire upon them. They curled like parchment in the heat of the flames, overwhelmed with pain.
Then Angwë blew a trumpet and led out all his strength. Balrogs, Orcs and Spiders there were, mingled with those of the Easterlings who had survived the Battle of Sirion. Angwë flared up, flames bursting forth, his wings spreading out. His whip sprang from one hand, and his sword from another, and he launched into battle with Eonwë himself. He flapped his wings, trying to fly, but found that he could only jump. The wings made him look fearsome though, and he used them to that effect.
"Angwë! Surely this is Angwë before me?" Eonwë shouted.
Angwë stopped in his tracks.
"Angwë!" Eonwë repeated. "What fell fate has brought you to this pass? I never took you for a thrall of Melkor."
Angwë faltered. Morgoth reared inside him, taking over, and he lunged at his former fellow.
"Angwë!" Eonwë cried, understanding. Now he himself understood the implacable hatred Elves and Men had for Morgoth, for he was no longer a mere witness. Morgoth was his enemy too, now, for Angwë had been a friend. "Fight him! Why should you perish with him?"
Angwë fought on. He and Eonwë continued thus until suddenly, a great crash was heard. They both looked around, momentarily stunned. Ancalagon the Black had fallen, driven into the ground by Vingilot, the ship of Eärendil, which soared above them. The light of the Silmaril shone forth from it, bringing hope to those survivors who had escaped the flames of the dragons.
Taking advantage of the distraction, Eonwë lunged at Angwë with his shield, knocking the Balrog over and pinning him to the ground. Focussing all his strength, Eonwë bent all his thought on the towering walls in front of him, and the whole roof of Angband was laid in ruin and the mountains were levelled.
At that moment, Morgoth, who was further weakened by the loss of every Balrog that was slain, lost his grip on Angwë. Eonwë saw the fell light in his friend's eyes go out, and the sword and whip melted away, though the Balrog form remained.
"Angwë!" Eonwë said again as he helped his former friend to his feet, "Now you are free. Come and beg pardon of Aulë your master. Surely you were cozened and had little choice in this matter."
But Angwë was silent, even as Sauron surrendered, standing beside his brother. "You must go now to Valinor for judgement," said Eonwë. "Repent and bow before them, and they will surely show you mercy."
Eonwë then set about the digging up of the pits, layer by layer, until they found Morgoth, who was cowering in the deepest one. Tulkas the Wrestler, champion of the Valar, came then and pulled off his iron crown. He twisted it into a collar and ripped out the Silmarils. Then he brought forth a huge chain and wrapped it tightly around Morgoth while Eonwë vengefully hewed his feet at the ankles. Tulkas dragged him away to Valinor, where, this time, there was no mercy. Morgoth was cast into the Void at once.
As he watched his master being dragged screaming away wrapped in chains, Sauron looked at Angwë and said, “All the work of two Ages is being dismantled. I will have to either give up the dreams of lordship I have cherished and submit to a servitude I cannot bear, or flee into the East with whoever will come with me. Will you come?”
“No,” said Angwë. “The last time I agreed to join you, I was turned into a Balrog and used to do foul deeds, believing that this would lead to the return of my mountain, Celebdil, to my control. I got nothing but pain and servitude for my troubles, and have been so corrupted by the service of Morgoth I know not what to say to my former fellows in Valinor. I will never be able to look them in the eye again. I know I do not deserve to be forgiven, nor do I believe I will be. Besides, I still feel anger towards them for forbidding me the enjoyment of that which I made with my own skill. If Aulë can have his Dwarves hallowed and given life of their own, why can Angwë not have and keep his mountain?”
“That is reason enough to join me, Angwë,” said Sauron. “Together, we could wreak revenge on our enemies.”
“I have no desire for vengeance,” Angwë replied. “There is no profit in it. I want Celebdil, and I shall have it. This time, I will not be thwarted. Farewell, and think not of me when you have a plan to do harm in this world, Sauron, for I will not take part in your schemes again. You betrayed me once, and that is enough. You are my brother only in name.”
With that, Angwë left Sauron and went to his mountain, which he meant to reclaim, however marred it was now. No-one had ever listened to him or taken an interest in what he wanted. Only when they wanted something from him did they seek him out, and Angwë was determined that he would never be used like that again. He walked from the battlefield, glad that nobody noticed he had not gone to Valinor as he was expected to.