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Strange Fire
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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1
Strange Fire

Written for Tolkien_weekly's "Let there be light" challenge.


~~~

Darkness: The Beloved

Darkness had not always been so. Once– before the light, before sight was– once, Darkness had been Void: the empty echo, the Unspoken unheeded.

And who had cared for the Void, but him?

To it, Melkor had sought to bring thought, sound, life. The Singing had filled it, yet without unmaking it, or making it live: there was Void still; it showed as Darkness.

And if the maker and lesser powers had not loved it, he had – concealing, resilient, in it his Fire, his Song made visible, burned the brighter.

Melkor clasped Darkness to him and he burned with love.


Sunlight: The Night-breaker

Darkness was not safe, however – not for him nor for itself, for his brothers and sisters made lights for the sky, one worse than the other. Anar burned away the night in which fire shines, making all blinding, and monstrously clear. The airs in their invisibility showed their nakedness, and swept the sky clean, leaving all exposed.

And it made the night shrink, for it halved the Darkness. Outraged, Melkor brought it into his realm and hid it and was hidden in it, until he heard, from his eyes upon the earth, of a new people walking the land...

Twilight: The Encounter

In their own tongue, they were the People, Kite-friends, Children of Nhar or of Ulhar. They were scattered and restless – yearning for guidance, fearing the darkness. Come nightfall, they huddled together, telling their stories beneath tangled jungle canopy.

And taking the Aftercomers' measure, Melkor perceived their desire, and revealed himself.

As towering flame he rose among them on a firewind, scorching the treetops. The People wailed, terrified, 'til one stood forward. Old she was, the story-teller, and fearless – she embraced him, cried to him as his light-fire consumed her. And he, laughing, named her people anew: Children of the Fire.


Starlight: The Fixed Star

Next morn, the People smeared her ashes upon their faces, and weeping, cut locks of hair to lay in her dust. “Khulanhir!” they cried her name, not knowing she was near.

For she would not pass beyond, but clung to their hidden God, though he brushed at her as at lice. But star-like, she remained, lighting his darkness.

“Why?” Melkor demanded. She answered:

You made the night glorious!

What graced Darkness could not terrify, and so she had died – in love and of love, for the Darkness he loved and Light he was, and bent his gaze outward...


Moonlight: The Waning Light

He could not remain with this people, for there was war to make in earth's heaven. Yet he did – longer than he had thought to.

Perhaps because she also stayed, Khulanhir, that moth-like soul. Delighting in his ruddy lights, she lingered, and her joy touched his pride. So Melkor showed her starfire and moonlight – of his element, and her candleflicker soul burned with love unbounded by body.

Into dreaming minds it seeped, and when she slipped from the world the third darkmoon since her body's death, her people grieved – strange, subtle elation – crying: “She has joined God!”


Firelight: Sign

She was gone, yet Melkor... lingered. She had hooked him, and the people who loved her clamored now for him. And if pride swelled to see himself in their eyes, nothing is, wholly loveless.

Yet love's bonds chafed. Melkor sat in them and itched abominably, testing souls: trying loves 'til agony overwhelmed, and love required he consume them utterly, unto oblivion.

And he gave them fire for his sign, and tempered souls to teach. For he must leave, yet being bound, must bind in turn: for if love is life, life is passion – suffering, and his people must suffer well...


Torchlight: The Precepts: The Golden Scrolls

“Then God was veiled, that we might live. Yet God finds each soul as it is, and tests it, and makes one worthy a torch-bearer.

“And so they said, the high-spirited: Fire is brazen. Be thou then bold – let not thy heart fail, but die first.

“And so they said, the gentle-hearted: Fire gives warmth. Be thou not ice-hearted, but burn with compassion.

“And so they said, the keen-sighted: From Fire comes light. Look thou, and love wisdom, which is the spirit's light.

“And the god-fearing warned: We live and die by God. Honor the Sacred Fire without presumption.”


Lamplight: The Heathen Kings of Old

The Precepts: The Book of Concords: “... thereafter, the Children of the Fire went forth fearless, and when they met others, they told of the Choosing, of Mother Khulanhir, who met God that night. And sometimes, a listening elder would feel his love kindled, and take up the torch. Then calling to God as living flame, he would commend his folk to the Sacred Fire.

“Thus the Children of Fire increased, and prospered, and in celebration, they made lamps: lights to glorify the night, to show the stars their numbers, and to honor the God-bond that is their guide...”


Candlelight: Witnesses

The fortunes of Men turned with the Ages. Wars harried them, and they harried each other: sometimes the Children of the Fire fought for their Dark-fire God and his Giver; sometimes they fought each other, and they killed and died with godlight in their eyes.

And they lived, and they loved, piercing the darkness of the Fallen with light of his light.

Thus the Messengers who came late among them rejoiced to find them as countless candles, in whom shone the glory and tragedy of their fiery brethren. So they touched them not, save to urge: “Give greater glory!”

~~~

Notes:

Darkness:

“[Melkor] had gone often alone into the void places seeking the Imperishable Flame; for desire grew hot within him to bring into Being things of his own, and it seemed to him that Ilúvatar took no thought for the Void, and he was impatient of its emptiness” (“Ainulindalë,” Silmarillion).

“But when they were come into the Void, Ilúvatar said to them: 'Behold your Music!' And he showed to them a vision, giving to them sight where before was only hearing [...]” (“Ainulindalë,” Silmarillion).

Sunlight and Twilight:

“But it was said afterwards among the Eldar that when Men awoke in Hildórien at the rising of the Sun the spies of Morgoth were watchful, and tidings were soon brought to him; and this seemed to him so great a matter that secretly under shadow he himself departed from Angband, and went forth into Middle-earth, leaving to Sauron the command of the War. Of his dealing with Men the Eldar indeed knew nothing, at that time, and learnt but little afterwards [...]” (“Of the Coming of Men into the West,” Silmarillion).

“Morgoth had then not long come back into Middle-earth, and his power went not far abroad, and was moreover checked by the sudden coming of great light” (“Of Men,” Silmarillion).

Torchlight: “[...] Men (it is said) were at first very few in number, whereas Morgoth grew afraid of the growing power and union of the Eldar and came back to Angband, leaving behind at that time but few servants, and those of less might and cunning” (“Of the coming of Men into the West,” Silmarillion).

The Precepts: fanonical sacred text of the Haradrim.

Lamplight: “The heathen kings of old” - Gandalf, “The Pyre of Denethor,” RoTK

Candlelight: “the Messengers who came late among them”: “the Messengers who came late among them”: "Of the Blue little was known in the West, and they had no names save Ithryn Luin 'the Blue Wizards'; for they passed into the East with Curunír, but they never returned, and whether they remained in the East, pursuing there the purposes for which they were sent; or perished; or as some hold were ensnared by Sauron and became his servants, is not now known" ("The Istari," Unfinished Tales).


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