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The Turning of Angwë
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Angwë hid in the shadows, a hunted thing. He wanted to return to Celebdil, the mountain he had made. Celebdil. Celebdil. It was like a chant, a song of power that kept him going. Moving from shadow to shadow, skirting the various armies and patrols that stood between him and his goal, he was afraid, terribly afraid.

Memories rushed in an unwanted torrent through his head, tormenting him with accusations of complicity in terrible acts of cruelty.

The instruments he had made to torture Húrin with; the weaving of the spell to lock him into the seat at Thangorodrim; and the making of the weapons and armour to send him tottering away on twisted, oft-broken legs battered an invasive tattoo on Angwë's conscience. Húrin's croaking voice clutched at his heart, “Is that the best you can do, foul monster of Morgoth, or is there some viler act of cruelty you can devise to make me scream the louder for your pleasure? Do you dance when I sing for you?”

“I do what I must,” Angwë replied aloud, as if his memory was real. “I only made the...” he trailed off. It was a paltry excuse, and he knew it.

The weapons and machines used to attack the Elves and their friends had been made by Angwë's hands. What would Aulë his master have said if he had seen them? “Why did you make these things, knowing the use they would be put to, Angwë?”

“I did not force them to use them! Surely we are responsible for our own choices and actions and not those of others, whatever is put in our way,” Angwë whispered, but he did not believe a word of it. He knew what his former master's response would have been.

“Why did you make those choices and actions so easy for them?”

“Because,” Angwë answered the imaginary Aulë, “I craved my mountain, and believed that if I obeyed Morgoth, I would be rewarded by being given Celebdil as a realm of my own.”

Deep in his heart, Angwë knew he deserved to be cast into the Void with Morgoth, and to be separated from all he knew and loved forever. Had he not been warned that his lust for his mountain would come to this? Another memory floated into his consciousness like a feather blown on a breeze.

In the Ring of Doom at Valinor, Angwë was on trial on charges of desertion and treason against the Valar. Arguments had been made for and against him. Finally, judgement was pronounced:

"Angwë... the penalty for thy vanity will surely be paid, not only by thee but by any who seek to claim any part of creation... and name it unto himself... This doom I pronounce: thou shalt relinquish all claim or title thou believest thou hast to any piece of land in Arda, or thine own lust shall consume thee."

As the memory bit into his heart, Angwë recoiled. 'I will not own these charges,' he thought. 'Let those who make them look to themselves before they blame me for anything. I go now to Celebdil, for which I have suffered so much.'

Heading eastwards towards the mountains, Artíre complained to himself as he went looking for a place to hide, 'This is the second time I have had to flee from former comrades. Why could I not have been left to pursue and report on drama without being forced to take sides?'

The fact that he had chosen Morgoth's because it offered more scope for excitement was not one the Watcher wished to face. 'Sauron has so much to answer for!' he wailed. 'If he had not enticed me to lie to the Elves, I would not have been inveigled into his schemes.'

Artíre had never had a mentor or master among the Valar. He had nominally served Manwë king of the Valar, but was never particularly loyal to him. 'I will not return to Valinor and beg pardon of Manwë,' he thought. 'I would rather be counted among the rebels than conform to his standards of purity and light. The life of the Valar is to give and to serve, and that I will not do, for there is neither profit nor entertainment in that for me.'

As he fled south, Sauron searched for evil creatures he could take into his service. Monstrous Spiders had once lived in the lands he was travelling through, and with them he could set up another realm if Orcs could not be found.

He remembered how Morgoth was dragged in shame from the deepest pit of Angband, quaking with fear and begging not to be chained again; the screams as his former master's feet were hewn off to prevent any further attack or attempt to escape. A great chain was brought forth, the iron crown was unceremoniously ripped from Morgoth's head and made into a collar, the Silmarils torn out. He would forever recall how the dreaded chain was attached to the collar and Morgoth was dragged on his belly like a snake, howling in anguish all the way to Valinor as his stronghold was torn down to its very roots.

“I will not permit myself to be so humiliated,” Sauron said to himself. “I will not hide in a place from which I cannot escape, and I will make the Elves pay for their role in aiding the destruction of my lord's realm.”

The foothills of the Misty Mountains were verdant and beautiful. As Angwë travelled through them, love for his mountain, which he could see in the distance, rekindled to its former passion. He knew Dwarves dwelt there, and had, most likely, done more damage to the caverns and cave systems he had so carefully wrought. While, as a Balrog, he could easily terrify the Dwarves into leaving, he knew he would need Orcs to help maintain his realm. Angwë started searching for them in the hope of finding a group who had the Brood Fungus they would require in order to breed. All of those creatures who were naturally drawn to Morgoth were too focussed on the here and now to join a new dark lord, though. Here, they risked detection and destruction by the Elves and the forces of light. Now they needed to keep on moving until they were far from their enemies.

As time went by, the effects of having been in Morgoth's service began to wear off. For an Age he had been as a child of himself and Morgoth, his true personality and attitudes buried. Now that Morgoth was gone, layers and layers of influence and memory sloughed off his heart like the skin of a shedding snake. He realised for the first time how vile, filthy and violated he felt. Like a prostitute whose pimp has died he felt empty and alone, wanting, needing the presence of his master while resenting him for making him feel this way. There would always be a part of him that clove to Morgoth, and for that very reason he hated him. He also hated his brother Sauron, whose continual taunting had brought him to this pass. And where was Sauron now? Skulking in the wastes of the East, no doubt. How he despised him now. He remembered how he had met Sauron in Middle Earth, and threatened to go and get Tulkas the Wrestler, champion of the Valar, to arrest him.

"Tra la la lally indeed," Sauron had sneered at him.

"I have been no better than Sauron this past age,"Angwë sighed,"and that is why I hate him so much, for there was a time when I was."

As time went on, Angwë found his thoughts and feelings spinning and twisting like a dandelion seed in the wind. One moment he would wish to be back in Angband with the people he had known and worked with for so long, and the next, he was furious with Sauron and Morgoth for making a Balrog of him and inducing him to do the most appalling things for no personal benefit.

'Oh, Sauron,' he wept in thought, 'we are brothers and you betrayed me. You let Morgoth lock me up for one hundred and fifty years to prove I would be obedient to him in everything - this was the exact amount of time Morgoth usually took to make an Orc of an Elf! Was this a joke or a test?'

He tried to imagine Sauron's answer. “You complain, brother, that we made you do the most appalling things. You did those appalling things of your own volition. If I remember aright, you found the Brood Fungus that allowed us to make more Orcs more quickly. Hardly the act of one who was appalled. Your chief complaint, though, is that you derived no benefit from it. Was being made a lieutenant of Morgoth entrusted with his deepest secrets and access to his person at will not enough? Oh, yes, you wanted that huge rock of yours as a realm of your own. It was not ours to give you, Angwë. You only came to us because you, a Maia, were too fearful to take it back yourself. You wanted us to do it for you.”

“That is a lie!” Angwë roared, though there was no-one to hear him. “If I had attacked the Dwarves and driven them from Celebdil, my master Aulë the Smith would have been angry. I feared a Vala more powerful than Morgoth! I asked you to help because I could not contend with a Vala by myself.”

A small voice of reason spoke up in his mind. “Could you not go back to Valinor and accept whatever punishment they give you? Surely it is better than being dragged back?”

“No,” Angwë replied to it. “They will accuse me of blaming others for my actions, and tell me I had no share in a world I helped to build. I will go to Celebdil and hide myself away there. If the Dwarves are permitted to continue their destructions of my work there, no-one will realize I am there.”

Thinking these things, Angwë made his way to the Misty mountains. He went East, ever Eastwards, until he arrived in the foothills of the Misty Mountains. At this point, he was in his usual Dark form, and looked like a great cloud of darkness, dragging darkness with it. As he approached the higher ground, he felt the strangest sensation. As one of the builders of this particular range, Angwë knew that something cataclysmic was happening. He could feel the very foundations of the earth groan in travail beneath him, as strata of different rocks and magma masses moved against each other. These very forces he himself had called upon when building in this place. He had stretched forth his will and called magma and basalt up from beneath the ground and had pushed and pulled them into the desired shapes. The weather of the world he had used to continually renew and reshape his work, so that it would be a living thing in a cycle, just like other natural creations.

Memories of building, of the earliest days of existence came flooding back, and for the first time in a long time he felt pure, innocent. He stretched forth his will and tried to perceive the nature of these events and form a plan to deal with them. Deep below him, something slid into place, but there was a feeling that spread through him, a sensation of loss and great mourning. Something had changed, something had been lost and gone forever. Middle Earth would never be the same again. Now it was a real place in which the immutable laws of gravity and physics held sway. Magic was fading, and the waning of the Elves was beginning. Eventually they would be gone, the Dwarves would be gone, and Men would remain.


Near a huge dark forest, Artíre the Watcher stood warily. There was something among the trees that terrified him. Not knowing what is was that put such a stern warning in his heart was the worst thing about it. Curiosity made him want to go in and find out what it was, but the pressing need to find a place to hide was ever in his mind, tapping away like a woodpecker on a tree. As he skirted the forest and made his way towards the Misty Mountains, he became aware of the approach of a familiar presence.

“Hail, Artíre, what news?” asked Angwë.

“There is something in here, Angwë, and I know not what it is,” the Watcher replied. “I am pleased to see you have escaped the clutches of the Valar. Have you found a place to hide from them?”

“I know of a place we both can go to,” Angwë told him, “but we have to gain entry first.”

“I will help you if I can,” Artíre replied, “but I know not what I can do. Something has changed. I can feel magic leaching from this world, and the fact that I cannot go to the one I left behind frightens me. I will have to take a solid form or I may fade and be gone forever.”

“I want to stay in this one,” said Angwë. “Celebdil anchors me here, and if I fade, I fade.”

“Is that where we are going?” asked Artíre. “Are we going to hide among the Dwarves?”

“Yes,” Angwë replied. “We need a diversion to gain entry, and then we shall go to the deepest parts and hide there. The living Dwarves will cover us, for it is well-known that I loathe the changes they have made with their delvings.”

“That,” Artíre told him with a grin, “is an excellent plan.”

When they arrived at Kheled-zaram, the Mirrormere, Angwë told him what he wanted of him. “Go now, enter the water of the lake and there transform yourself into a mighty monster, dragging unwary Dwarves to their deaths. In that way, I shall be revenged on them and the search for missing friends will cause the gates to be opened that I may go inside.”

“I will,” replied Artíre, “after darkness has fallen. Eagles fly above us, and I fear being seen if I step out from among the shadows.”

Later on that evening, a Dwarf brought his pony to the lake to drink.

Artíre waited for the creatures to get near enough, then he pounced, sending his many tentacles to wrap around them.

As the dwarf and pony both screamed and struggled with all their might, people began to leave the comparative safety of the mine to see what was going on.

Artíre's attack was so swift that none of them realised exactly what had happened; all they knew was that a Dwarf and his pit pony had by some means fallen into the lake and were drowning. Pitiful streams of bubbles rose, slowly becoming sparse, as the life left the two living things. The bodies were never found, and the lake was considered haunted ever after.

In the melee, Angwë slipped unnoticed intro the mine. As soon as he was inside, he looked around him and saw those pillars that had so offended before. They were huge, and there were now more of them than ever. He went down to the deepest part of the cavern system, seeking no contact with anyone, and there he laid himself down to wait out the centuries.


Deep in the mere, Artíre settled down in the mere to bide his time. He decided he would keep the monster form. It was a good shape to wear while hiding at the bottom of a deep lake, and served him well for many, many years.

Slowly, the connection between Middle Earth and Valinor waned. A point would eventually be reached where the two worlds would be sundered forever. As this was happening, Arda fell deeper under the rule of the laws of physics while magic faded, becoming little more than a shadow of what it had been. This was affecting Artíre because he was losing the ability to take shape at will. He was getting stuck in his monster form, and this inability to build a body by the power of his will or slough it off meant that if anything happened to his body, he could die, or at least be reduced to a spirit of malice that gnawed itself in the shadows. As this knowledge crept into his consciousness, he began to feel fear. He remained in the lake, unwilling to expose himself to the possibility of coming to harm.


The Dwarves continued to mine the mountain, but Angwë no longer cared. In fact, he had moved so far and so deep he actually ended up under Caradhras. There, at the very root of the mountain, he made himself a den and settled himself down.

“So,” he wept to himself, “it has come to this: in the place I desired as a realm of my own, I hide like a thief, hoping the owners of the house do not notice he is there! But I am the builder of this house! This is so unfair, and I have no-one to go to who will take my part. All of them will say Celebdil is naught but 'a huge rock,' and that I love it more than I should. Is it strange for a father to love his child, as my former master Aulë loved the Dwarves he made? They delve in my mountain, bringing to ruin every effort I made.”

Wallowing in self-pity, Angwë looked through a rose-hued lens at his part in the building of the Misty Mountains, the construction of Celebdil and the things he had done to get the Dwarves to stop mining in his mountain. Conveniently, he forgot that he had expended every effort he had made to gain control of Celebdil trying to get other people to do it for him.

“So be it,” Angwë complained, “that which I intended to be my home shall serve as my tomb. I shall seal myself in here for all eternity!”

Though his body and heart were locked up tight, sometimes Angwë felt his brother Sauron tugging at his consciousness, particularly when the Deceiver wanted him to aid him in some scheme against Elves or Men. Furious at Sauron, and blaming him for his predicament, Angwë refused to answer his summonses.

“I will not aid you, Sauron, false brother that you are!” Angwë roared in thought. “If I come, will Eonwë not return to bring us both to justice? My sense of justice does forbode it, and overwhelming guilt and shame agree. Begone, and trouble me no more!”

“Coward!” Sauron's voice called in his mind.

“Fool!”Angwë responded. “Ask Artíre, if you want help, and see if the drama you provide is enough to make him leave his lake for you!”

There was no response to that. There never was. The feud between Sauron and Artíre was never resolved, and never would be. Forcing him to take sides against the Valar when he desired to be neutral had turned the Watcher against the Deceiver forever.


It was in the Third Age that something happened that brought an end to the relative peace Angwë had experienced. It was Durin IV, king of the realm, who was responsible. He stood outside the main gallery that led into the cavern complex that housed Angwë. Gathered around him were his chief miners and engineers, and various attendants. "My fellow Dwarves," he said grandly, "we are gathered here this day to celebrate the delvings of the roots of Caradhras. At this point I acknowledge Halin son of Gombur, whom we all agree is Halin the Prop Master reborn from ancient days, who was responsible for the magnificent Pillars of the Great Halls of the Dwarrowdelf, among other things; it is he who has brought us safely to this point without bringing our home down on top of us."

Halin bowed, first to his king, then to the rest. They all applauded him.

Durin continued. "My fellow Dwarves, I gladly receive from Halin's hands this mithril pick to begin the excavation of this new tunnel. Great wealth awaits us!"

Everyone applauded as the king ceremonially chipped away at the wall for a moment. He stepped to one side. Other miners took his place and worked away as the king and his attendants went to eat from the buffet that had been set up nearby. Durin gave the mithril pick to an attendant - it was solely meant for ceremonial use.


Angwë was not certain at first as to what it was that had disturbed him. There was something like a scratching sound. More than a sound, it was a sensation of something approaching, encroaching on his space. Angwë laboriously unfolded himself from the crouching position he had remained in for millennia. He felt stiff and sluggish, wanting to stretch, but he didn't have much space where he was. The Balrog needed to be ready for whatever it was that was coming for him. As he became more aware, he stretched forth his consciousness to determine what it was that was out there. Something was coming, but he did not feel an urgent threat. Whatever it was, it was familiar. It felt familiar. What could it be? Behind him, the wall began to crumble, then it fell.

An iron pick slammed into his back. Angwë spun, roaring his fury, lashing out as hard as he could. He hit rock. The punch knocked away the last barrier between himself and whatever had hurt him, and he smashed his way free. Angwë burst into flame, his whip and sword suddenly sprouting into his hands. His wings flared out on either side and he roared again, cracking his whip.

The Dwarves in the tunnel died instantly. Durin and his attendants rushed out to see what was happening.

Angwë set about them in a frenzy of rage and all of them died, except one who had prudently hidden under a pile of debris. As Angwë chased his tormentors away, this fellow had the presence of mind to stealthily make his way out of that place and up to the higher levels to raise the alarm.

More Dwarves came down to investigate, but only found dead bodies and no sign of anything else. They removed the bodies, cleaned up the mess and abandoned the mine.

A year or so later, Náin son of Durin arrived, determined to discover what had happened to his father. He searched the mine all the way through until he found Angwë, who chased him down and killed him.

Angwë ranged through Khazad-dûm, killing at will until it was completely devoid of Dwarves. Those he did not kill fled far away, and when the realm was empty, Orcs entered in. It was then that Khazad-dûm became known to all as Moria the Black Pit.


Angwë found a cavern to rest in big enough to be comfortable, but near to where the Orcs and the Goblins who followed them dwelt. He needed to be able to keep in touch with his guards in case of any trouble.

“How can I slumber,” he complained to himself, “knowing that the Dwarves will return, whatever I do to keep them out? They think Celebdil is their own because they have made their mark in it. Their obsession may mirror mine in some ways, but I feel more rivalry than kinship with them!”

A tap on his consciousness caught his attention. “Do not let anyone realize there are Maiar here, particularly a Balrog,” warned Artíre. “Some Elven warrior, wishing to make a name for himself, might draw unwanted attention to us.”

“Aye,” replied Angwë, “but I need you more than ever to help me fend them off, for they come to disturb me, however deep into the caverns I go. They dig, hacking at the rocks until they break my skin, then when I roar at them, they complain as if I were the one in the wrong!”

“That I will not argue with,” replied the Watcher, “but nonetheless I deem it wiser to remain a nameless terror than to give them a word to call us by. Once they know what we are, they will know what to do. Keeping them in a state of confusion regarding our nature is the best course. Let the terror of Moria and the darkness therein keep them away.”

“Will you help to drive them out when they come?” asked Angwë.

“I will do what I must to keep the peace we have when they are not here,” Artíre replied, “but no more.”


Years passed; years upon years. Every once in a while, Dwarves would come and Angwë and Artíre would work with the Orcs and Goblins to drive them away. It was relatively soon after the last incursion that Gandalf led the Fellowship of the Ring to Moria.

Artíre was the first to notice the Fellowship. “Angwë,” he called to the Balrog, “look to your defences. A group of travellers approaches. There are Men, Elves and Dwarves... there is something strange about these people. I fear there is a Maia among them.”

“How many are there? Is Eonwë among them?” Angwë asked.

“I know not,” replied the Watcher. “I sense a great danger, the hand of destiny gripping our shoulders. None of them is what they seem.”

“Do what you can,” Angwë said, “but do not move unless provoked.”

The Watcher waited, and as he floated just beneath the surface of the pool, a rock hit him near his eye. Then another one. The water slowed the descent of the rocks so they did not hurt him, but Artíre was having none of this. He could hear a voice saying, “Do not disturb the water.”

There was something about the owner of that voice that puzzled Artíre. The person seemed to be a Man, but had an Elven quality he could not quite place. He was not Peredhel, that was for sure. Rising up to take a closer look, the Watcher became aware of a powerful pull on his consciousness. The sensation was so strong it was physical. Something familiar called to him. Sauron!

How Artíre hated the smooth voice that sounded like honey dripping off a spoon, lulling the unwary into a false sense of security before snapping the trap shut! He knew his nemesis had inhabited the bodies of mortals before. Sauron was not even trying to hide! Was he not putting forth his consciousness, trying to make contact with his brother Angwë? No doubt he intended to induce this little one to betray his friends.

While the Watcher loved Elves and their friends no more than Sauron did, he saw nothing wrong with diminishing him still further by killing the host he was in. Lifting a tentacle, he snaked it towards the small creature Sauron was possessing, grabbing him around the ankle.

“Help!” cried the small creature.

“Frodo!” the strange Man called, and hacked off one of the Watcher's tentacles.

Another Man chopped off another one, causing Artíre to cry out in agony and drop Frodo. As he reared up out of the lake to exact revenge, this Man cried, “Legolas!” and an Elf shot him in the eye.

“Curse you, Elf!” Artíre roared, rising up to lash out at him.

Legolas fired arrow after arrow at him. Furious, Artíre reared up and climbed up out of his lake, determined to destroy his tormentors. He succeeded only in bringing down a ton of rocks on top of himself after wrecking the door the Fellowship had entered.


Deep in the bowels of the mine, Angwë felt a stab of sympathetic pain as Artíre fell beneath the weight of the rockfall. Fear squeezed him in an icy grip, and the Balrog felt real fear for the first time since the fall of Morgoth. Had the Watcher survived in some way? Could Artíre still help him? Whoever had the strength to slay the Watcher could also slay him!

Artíre had perished in a rockfall. The slayers had wrecked a part of his mountain! The Balrog wondered if they had perished with his former comrade. It was possible. Fury warred with terror in his heart, and Angwë struggled to contain the overwhelming feelings that engulfed his being. He needed to keep a clear head. Sending his Orcs upwards, Angwë stretched forth his consciousness to touch the minds of the Orcs and Goblins that served him, hungry for news of the intruders and to discover their intentions.

Some time later, word came to him that there had been a massive rockfall by the West Gate, which no-one could have survived. Angwë was satisfied with this until a massive racket echoed throughout the silent mines. Something clattered loudly down an old shaft, battering and clanging as it fell. “Go,” he told his Orcs, “and find out what the cause of this noise is. The intruders you insisted were dead have gained entry to this place, perhaps to bring the Dwarves back to slaughter us all. Capture them alive if you can. I have plans for them.”


With a rumble of drums, the Orcs and Goblins called their fellows to the fray, bringing a chained Cave Troll with them. Smashing down a broken door, they attacked the small group of people who waited in there, Angwë's orders ringing in their ragged ears.

The thud of arrows thumping into their bodies demonstrated a capacity for resistance they had not expected from so small a group. Even close up, in hand-to-hand combat, the strangers were able to hold their own. When the first sortie fell with the Cave Troll, they had to reconsider their options. A second wave rushed in as the strangers fled, and quickly surrounded them.

The strangers raised their weapons, ready to fight to the last, but their master's orders had been very firm: “Seize and hold the strangers. Do not slay them until I tell you.”

Always they had heard their master's orders in their minds. He was a distant reality in their lives, and there were places in Moria where they feared to tread. They had never actually seen the Dark Terror of Moria, and never wanted to. As they stood facing their enemies, every instinct screaming at them to kill them, a faraway roar held them where they stood. It sounded again, louder this time.

They did not stay to see what would happen. Shinning up the massive pillars surrounding them, they fled before their master arrived.


Something called to Angwë, a mellifluous sensation of being stroked that left a bitter tang in his mind. Sauron! What was Sauron doing here? “Begone!” he roared. “You have caused me enough trouble, now you come to disturb me after all these years!”

Something else impinged on his thoughts. Something that unsettled him: he could sense the presence of another Maia, maybe two. It was a trap! Fury flared him up, his wings spreading, his sword springing from his right hand and his whip from his left. “So!” Angwë roared. “Have you come to destroy me as you did Artíre? Come and fight, then, if you think you can! Fight!”

The Balrog was aware of his enemies fleeing in the face of his onslaught. Heartened, he advanced upon them, cracking his whip. As his enemies came into view, Angwë noticed they were fleeing towards a narrow stone bridge. If they escaped, they might bring others.

Putting forth his consciousness, Angwë concentrated on pulling down the brick walls on which the stairs were built. Those people were strong, but he had a weapon as great as the ones in his hands: fear. If he could terrify them, they would crumble before him like stale bread. Elves, Men and their Maiar friends might not be afraid of him, but a long drop might do the trick...

Approaching the bridge, Angwë saw the Elf, some Men and some smaller people make their way across. Barring his way, one of the Maiar, who looked like an old Man, shouted, “You cannot pass!”

Angwë cracked his whip contemptuously. “Who are you?” he sniffed.

“Go back to the shadows!” the Maia replied, slamming his staff into the middle of the bridge.

“Where is Sauron?” Angwë asked in thought. “Have you taken him prisoner? I can sense him. He is being carried away.”

“You shall not pass!” the Maia before him insisted.

“Gandalf!” a small voice cried in consternation.

Angwë swung his sword, bringing it down on a dome shield of power as he tried to cleave Gandalf in two.

Angwë drew back his arm to wield his whip.

Gandalf struck the bridge with his staff.

The part of the bridge on which Angwë stood collapsed, taking him down into the chasm it had spanned. Tumbling backwards, he lashed out with the whip, catching Gandalf by the ankle, pulling him down with him.

Gandalf struggled to pull himself back up, losing his grip on the smooth rock. "Run, you fools," he hissed to his friends. Then he fell.


Angwë's wings were useless. Morgoth had always been more interested in the look of a thing than in whether or not it actually worked. Angwë could flap his wings, but he could not fly. He could jump a good height, but he could not hold himself up in the air. But by spreading his wings at this point, he could slow his descent and give himself a reasonable chance of survival when he hit the bottom.

Gandalf was tumbling after him with a determined expression on his wrinkled old face. Retrieving his sword as it fell beside him, he struck Angwë with it, slashing at his chest.

Angwë swatted him, but to no avail.

Down down down they tumbled, falling further and further, into the deepest place in the cavern system. They crashed at last into an underground lake. The freezing water doused Angwë's fires, and he became a thing of slime instead.

Gandalf still struck out at him with all the strength he had. All over Khazad-dûm they fought, evenly matched, until they arrived at the stairway of Zirak-zigil, and fought their way up it step by step. Eventually, they arrived at the very peak of Celebdil and continued the fight there, as bitter winds blew snow in their faces.

Finally, Gandalf recognised his adversary as Angwë. "What have you done, you fool?" he asked him. "I never took you for a follower of Morgoth."

"You know nothing about me, old man," Angwë replied, "and it is not your place to judge me. I am no-one's thrall now, nor will I ever be one again."

"I know that you are wicked," Gandalf replied, "and I am come to bring your reign of terror to an end. Submit to me and to my sword and I will set you free."

"Submit to what?” Angwë replied. “Do you really believe that what you offer me is mercy? Each time I submitted to those people who claimed overlordship of me, they demanded my obedience and gave me nothing for it. Now you call me wicked and say I must submit to you so I can be a thrall again. Nothing I have made may I keep for myself! Nothing! I must either be a slave to someone and get nothing for it, or be punished for refusing!”

“Will you admit to none of the atrocities of which you are guilty?” Gandalf asked.

“So you, who fights so bravely in battle, are innocent?” Angwë countered, contempt frosting his words. “Have you, wielding that sword, committed no atrocities of your own? Do we not all have a right to life, Gandalf? Yet you slay us so easily, you hypocrite!”

"Do you really believe that?" Gandalf retorted.

"I know not what I believe," said Angwë wearily, and shrugged.

Gandalf thrust his sword into Angwë's heart.

The Balrog roared and tumbled backwards down the mountainside, his body breaking on the rocks below.

Gandalf dropped where he stood on the snowy peak. His eyes fluttered shut as darkness took him. A bitter wind howled around him, as if mourning the scene on the top of Celebdil, the mountain Angwë made.

The End.


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