Slouching Toward Gondolin

There was a glorious screaming sound as we lurched forward for the first time – a tortured, twisted scraping as metal learned to move against metal, the friction of iron and bronze caressing each other, a song of frozen fear learning to thaw in a Balrog’s heat. It was drawn out the way a scream of climax echoes the cries of creation – like the echo of his own scream once drew the dark fires to Lammoth, when he learned for himself what it was like to be penetrated by the thirsting dark.

I checked the edge of my blade against my thumb – it felt bright and perfect and fine. I leaned it gently against the arm of the sleeping body beside me – it drew a line of dark beaded blood without waking him. I was very pleased.

Soon I would be happy to know that those I allowed to encounter its edge could feel it, but I wanted to be sure the razor keenness would buy my way into the city first.

After that there was little to do but savour the flickering shadows, the scent of heat, the taste of oil on steel that rose all around me… and think about the surprise the rising sun would bring to Gondolin. Would they have cherished their watchful silence tonight if they knew that the song that greeted the morning sun would be in our tongue – the scream of battle, the screech of shock, the shriek of death. Nost-na-Lothion! Good! Let the flowers bloom on your ill-gotten graves.

Smug elves - think they have it all figured out, who they are, what they are, why. They think they invented beauty, and no one else can see it. Yet they are so blind to others they can only see beauty in themselves. They pride themselves on the way they delight in every little blade of grass – yet they look upon our dark Lord and fail to see the glow of his ferocious fire. They woke up one night and someone told them they were born for love and purpose – that the very stars were made for them – and they believe it! Well, that’s how elves are – tell them they are wonderful, the crown of creation – why would they question that. It does seems like a great way to shut them up. What do they know? They woke in the dark, and they are being kept in the dark. Ask them about their souls and where their precious fëas will end up and see if they still seem so superior.

We know where we stand – squarely on the ground. We have no promises of time or of the West. We have to take what we want now.

I don’t need some stupid story about how I came to be. I am. And if I wanted a creation, what fiction could I devise to rival my reality as I ride towards Gondolin in the belly of death, wedged in tooth by claw with – more death!! The shrieking sound of metal in motion, the taste of copper and steel like blood in the back of the throat, the waves of heat that rise off the demonspawn and their whips – the press of immense yet indifferent hate.

I ride in the crucible of my conception. My deeds are my birth, my breath. I am not a soldier, I am a weapon, razor-sharp and fearless! What sword was ever born in a finer flame? If those close minded elves can’t see the beauty of sparks flying outward from the forge – can’t see them as the stars our maker set for us… well, those who refuse to see fall into their own folly.

I felt my blood and anger rise as the belly of the metal serpent roared against the walls of their stupidity.

What will protect you now from our risen loathing? The hot blood-filled air of the city felt cold as the serpent shed its skin to release our wrath. We are more than ready.

They try to tell us we were made from elves. Think on that, you puny, leaf-eared peace-seekers, when you think about beauty and purpose. You were just the raw material. You are pig-iron and we are steel. We have been remade, refined, perfected - fashioned, formed and forged for fury.

Here we come.

This is for Jim, who thought I could do it...

Notes: This was written as part of the crossover challenge at Henneth Annun, where I was asked to write about a race in Middle Earth that I had never written about. (I generally write about the race of men, especially Dunedain of the north and South.)

Where this story came from: The other night waiting for dinner, Jimwas telling me about the siege of Gondolin, and mentioned (he's an engineer and he often notices different things in a text than I do) that some of the dragons were mechanical constructs, and a host of orcs rode inside like a Trojan horse and poured out into the city.

I could not stop thinking about what would make a living being ride inside a dragon with a Balrog rider. I could not get the taste of hot metal out of my mouth. And I kept thinking about orcs being made from/in mockery of the elves and wondering what elven smugness would look like if it manifested on that side… and the terrible fierce thought of orc beauty.

Here is the passage: The Book of Lost Tales II p. 177:
But now Gothmog lord of Balrogs, captain of the hosts of Melko, took counsel and gathered all his things of iron that could coil themselves around and above all obstacles before them. These he bade pile themselves before the northern gate; and behold, their great spires reached even to its threshold and thrust at the towers and bastions about it, and by reason of the exceeding heaviness of their bodies those gates fell, and great was the noise thereof: yet the most of the walls around them still stood firm. Then the engines and the catapults of the king poured darts and boulders and molten metals on those ruthless beasts, and their hollow bellies clanged beneath the buffeting, yet it availed not for they might not be broken, and the fires rolled off them. Then were the topmost opened about their middles, and an innumerable host of the Orcs, the goblins of hatred, poured therefrom into the breach; and who shall tell of the gleam of their scimitars or the flash of the broad-bladed spears with which they stabbed?


This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for private enjoyment, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.


August 2003
henneth annun
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