Enemy of my Enemy
I was no politician. I did not excel at reading people, uncovering the world in their minds by simply observing the slightest twitch in their expressions. Yet even I could see that he was a rotten creature. He had entered our life, head bowed demurely in subjugation, and now we were all caught in his web. He would slink around the meeting room, honeyed words on delicate lips, murmuring into my cousin’s ear. Ar-Pharazon would nod, a secretive smile upon the harsh lines of his face.
The factories were first. Black iron, reaching up to the sky with spiny fingers, belching smoke and fumes and dusty grime. Industrialization, my cousin called it. Coal mining was a messy business, reserved for children. I watched our youth turn into ragged, wide eyes creatures, backs bent and deformed from ducking under machinery. Those who were unlucky enough to get caught in the gears were burned. The smell was pungent, and invaded every nook and cranny of the city. Those who managed to survive days of toil were let loose into the streets at night, covered in soot, chasing each other with maniacal laughs. I could hear them from my window. Their ability to still cry out so happily when their lungs were filled with ash and their limbs so deformed amazed me. But, perhaps it was simply because they had known no other life.
There was no escape from the ash, it clogged your breaths, thick and cloying. The sun had long since left, obscured by clouds of smog. Each day was colder than the last. Many of the rich had taken to wearing finely crafted, ornamental masks outside, to filter out at least some of the soot. Even then, when I blew my nose at the end of the day it was black, and I found myself unable to run far without doubling over. I would never understand how my cousin could bear to smoke on top of all of this. Then again, he spent all his days sitting upon his twisted, glittering throne, so perhaps there was no reason for him to get out of breath. Tar-Mairon, as ever, seemed unaffected. I hated him for it. Every night, I would spend long hours trying to scrub the oil and grime from my face, and the murky water running down the drain would join the filth that ran through the city. I could hardly bear to look at it.
Throughout all of this, there was only the joy of the inventions. I almost felt guilty for adoring them so, when I knew the price that creating them had taken. Yet seeing grand airships soaring through the air on invisible wings, seeing carriages move without need for horses; it would never cease to amaze me. Even Tar-Mairon, who was the most serious person I knew, could not help but twitch his lips in a hesitant smile at the christening of our air-fleet. They were of his design, after all. This was a world in which he could live out his dreams.
I caught him one night, taking his smooth fingers in my rough ones. He flinched away. I held him tight, despite his obvious discomfort.
“You disgust me,” I told him. He sneered.
“The feeling is mutual my Lady, I assure you.”
“Your teachings are false. Lord Melkor would never want this for us.” That seemed to strike a chord with him. He pulled away, twisted my wrist painfully in the process. His eyes narrowed.
“You know nothing, mortal.”
“What, and my cousin does?” He almost smiled. Almost. It didn’t reach his eyes.
“Not at all. That’s what makes this all so easy. Goodnight, Miriel.” He swept away, all poise and fluttering robes embroidered by the sweat and tears of dying workers. I wonder how different things would have ended had I given into the urge to attack him then and there, to pull out the ancient elven dagger in my dress, the only remaining relic of my family I possessed, and drive it through his heart. If he even had one.
But I didn’t, because despite it all, I knew our roles in this game, and mine would always be below his.
At the very least, Ar-Pharazon’s attention was off of me, for once. He no longer cared if I came to bed, even preferred it if I didn’t, and it was as though a great weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I felt no pity for the monster that was now forced to lay with my husband. I had at first, in the very beginning before his poisonous words had seeped into every crevice of my home. I had stumbled upon him in the dungeons, bleeding and weak, a meek picture of obedience. It was surely an act to garner my support. Luckily, I had come to my senses quickly upon realising that this beautiful creature was truly just as much of a monster as my husband. They deserved each other.
It wasn’t until the King and his soldiers had gone off on their airships to destroy Valinor that I finally summoned the courage to strike at him. There was no one left - I would not be accused. A storm had begun to brew, rain lashing at the buildings, hitting hard enough to feel like needles and not water. Dark clouds rolled overhead, their shapes echoing the jagged waves in the sea, foamy and wild. Lighting cracked like the sound of a whip. He stood on top of the Temple in some twisted show of dominance, arms spread wide, challenging the storm. His hair fluttered like fair, dark robes dragging at his body but unable to tear themselves free. I stalked up the stairs with the dagger in my hand. The sapphires in its hilt glinted in the light of the torches set along the stairwell. There were no gas lamps in the Temple.
When I reached the top, it felt as though the wind might tear me apart. I had never felt such ferocity before. The waves had risen, crashing on the shores of the island and breaking apart boulders into hundreds of splinters. My hands shook as I gripped the dagger. A bolt of lighting split the sky, and arched down directly onto Tar-Mairon. It was so fast that I saw nothing but a flash of light. He was on fire. His very body was burning, and he threw his head back and laughed as smoke rose off of him in waves. I watched in horror as the very flesh began to drip off of his bones. Somehow, its burning smell was so pungent that it managed to force its way through even the torrential downpour. But once the flesh was seared away, underneath there was not white bone nor red blood. Gears. Hundreds of them. Bones gleaming coppery russet. Sheets of metal hammered into the shape of lungs that screeched and ground as they moved. His heart ticked, strips of metal convulsing in a twisted dance. He was no living thing, but a machine, more complex than anything I had ever seen him build. I felt sick, and had adrenaline not taken hold of me, I am certain that I would have thrown up then and there. I ran, feet slipping on the dome of the Temple, dagger raised, and brought it down onto him. My clothes burned away into rags where I touched him, for he was still white hot from the fire. He howled, a metallic screech of scraping metal, and lunged back at me. The dagger, enchanted hard enough to slice through metal, had gone straight through his forearm. The gears twitched and groaned. But he did not seem to feel pain. His claws came down upon me, and I scrambled back, pulling the dagger with me. His gaze bored into me.
I will never forget that face. Bits of burnt, still sizzling flesh clung to a copper skeleton. Teeth sharp like a wolf’s, yet no tongue, no ability to speak in any tongue known to Man. And his eyes - I was transfixed. Pupils widened with the movement of tiny gears, surrounded by a ring of fire, moving about behind the glass of his cornea. I wrenched my arm back, and brought my fist down on his face as hard as I could. It seared the skin off my knuckles, embedded tiny shards of glass from his eyes into my flesh. I thought I felt a bone buckle. He stumbled backwards, one of his eyes shattered, dripping lava down his face and melting even his skeleton. There was a manic energy to the way he was twitching, to the sounds that managed to claw their way out of his garbled throat. He was laughing. Still, he was laughing.
A scream ripped out of my lungs, and I lunged again. He didn’t even try to stop me this time. I drove the dagger straight into his throat, twisting it with desperate hands, forcing him to the ground. We both hit the marble of the dome with a harsh thud. The air was knocked out of my already frail lungs. My dagger had gone through his windpipe, and his mouth opened and closed to no avail. There was a horrible screeching sound as his metal lungs crumpled in on themselves, trying to push in a mechanical rhythm although there was no air to push. Determined to finish it, I lifted the dagger high, right above his heart.
I didn’t see the wave. But he did. His remaining eye was wide, imitating something akin to fear, if I believed that he was even capable of such emotion. I howled, and brought the dagger down just as the wave hit. A hundred tonnes of water slammed into me hard enough to break my ribs. The Temple toppled, the final legacy of Melkor crumbling like a sandcastle under the ocean. We fell together. Water filled my every sense. But then- he was there, scrabbling at my hand, pressing something into my palm with twitching, malfunctioning fingers. I could only tell what it was from the feel, for it was as dark as night under the waves. A ring. My consciousness was slipping, and here was a lifeline, one that my dying mind could not fully think through before accepting. I slipped it onto my finger, and had time to see the glow of his remaining, expressionless eye staring at me before I slipped out of consciousness.
When I woke up in the deep fortress of Barad-Dur, he was just as beautiful as before, no trace of the twisted metal creature I had fought before. Sometimes I wonder if it was a dream, or some smoke induced hallucination. Perhaps I shall never know. But I suspect that whatever that creature was, it was lost under the waves forever, and the Lord of Mordor that rules over me now is entirely soft to the touch.
Envoyé: 12:21 Wed, 15 March 2023 by : Soyer Gunes age : 17