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Coveting the Light

Written for the A_L_E_C "Wicked Things" challenge. For Surgical Steel for her birthday. Beta by RiverOtter.


Coveting the Light

We might try such hröa as pleases us, then?

Indeed, beloved child. But know this--the longer you remain within a particular guise, the more you shall take on the nature of that guise, and the more that guise shall take on your nature. Nor can the form you take go counter to your basic nature or counter to the environment in which you find yourself.

Which means?

There was but a feeling of observation from the Timeless Halls. Atar had not withdrawn, but watched, apparently dispassionately, as if to see what would happen now.

Mairon felt a moment of unease as well as a flicker of frustration that was swiftly suppressed, and a flicker of something else that he found more enjoyable. He thought about that flicker momentarily. He looked sideways at his brother in the thought of Eru, and found that Olórin’s aura had gone bright with curiosity. There was a sudden shimmer, and in place of the Maia’s brightness he saw instead a flurry of icy crystals in a spiral pattern, capturing a bright pattern of crystalline notes in the Song. That caught the attention of Ossë, who took on the towering form of a waterspout, and heavier notes reflected the motif that Olórin had first expressed.

One of their sisters laughed and stretched herself into a great pillar of shimmering ice, her music clear and bright and cold. Uinen, who favored Ossë, frowned at the growing chaos of his dance, and took the form of a great stone within the circuit of his waterspout, giving it a base for symmetry and keeping it anchored within a prescribed circuit. Attracted by the pillar if ice, which was beginning to take on a shape that was more definable, a face becoming more obvious, Mairon suddenly flared into a ring of bright flame, hot and consuming, dancing about her and causing her pillar to begin to lose its cohesion. There was a cry from Olórin, who suddenly shifted his circle of icy crystals between Mairon’s flames and the pillar of ice, while Arien became a sphere of great light beyond Mairon’s own circle, drawing his attention outwards. Mairon’s envy was raised, for Arien’s light was clearer and brighter than his own, and he lost the shape completely as he found himself reaching out to try to take her brightness for himself.


Mairon paused, having found himself as a great wolf seeking to swallow up Arien. Tilion had leapt between the wolf and the sphere of light, however, a warrior holding a blade of flame to ward off Mairon’s advances; while Olórin had flattened into a wall of flame that caught and directed Arien’s light, protecting both Arien and Tilion.

All turned toward their atar, ashamed to realize they were bickering in His presence.

How will the other children behave, with the example of such quarrels before them in your behavior?

Most went back to their more usual forms, although Arien, Olórin, and Mairon continued on in their current forms several measures longer. Their sister who had taken the form of the pillar of ice seemed less bright, and quickly one of their brothers was at her side, comforting her and offering his own brightness to lie against. The attention of all seemed to be on Mairon, who found himself licking his snout and whining, then shifting back into his normal guise, Arien and Olórin following suit but a beat behind him.

That was not well done, brother, Olórin commented privately. It is never good to threaten others, even in play.

Anger flared through Mairon. What right did his brother have to reprove him? A quick examination of the others present, however, indicated that most shared Olórin’s opinion of the matter. But one of their sisters, one who had taken on a shape with far too many legs and a sucking mouth, appeared to approve of him.

He gave a mental shrug, and turned his attention pointedly away from his brother. But he had to admit to himself that as the ring of flame he had felt empowered, mighty and above the rest. And how he had coveted the brightness Arien had displayed....


Author's notes: As Raksha the Demon noted a few weeks ago, in Tolkien's notes the first name given the Maia who later became known as Sauron the Accursed was Mairon, although he also bore the names Aulendil or Friend of Aulë while he dwelt in Aman before the final rebellions of Melkor against his peers, Annatar or Lord of Gifts while inspiring Celebrimbor to create the Rings of Power, and Zigur during the years he spent in the company of Ar-Pharazôn leading to the downfall of Númenor. Tolkien indicates he was one Maia who took on different forms at different times, and that as well as showing a pleasing humanoid shape he appeared at times as a werewolf, a great vampire bat, and could be the greatest of the Balrogs as well as taking his most common final form of the Great Eye once his ability to take on a pleasing humanoid seeming was lost to him after Isildur removed the Ring from his hand while he was in that shape.

It was my brother who noted that in losing the ability to take on that shape any longer Sauron had lost a good deal of himself, becoming a mere shadow of what he had been until the victory of the Last Alliance over his forces when he lost the Ring; as a shadow with no substance it was natural that he, he who had ever shown affinity for fire and whose hand was hot enough to destroy Gil-galad and from the heat of which the Ring was able to display the Ringspell written upon it, should surround himself with a ring of flames, for it is only when contrasted against light that one can truly discern shadows....


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