Actions

Work Header

The Dark Fire Will Avail You

Chapter Text

Giddy at first from relief at the escape from the spiders, Iaun found his mood to once more darken as the dreary journey continued. Even Sérelókë seemed subdued now, running ahead and dropping back more and more often to stay beside Iaun and Certhasath. He placed his hand on the horse’s withers just ahead of Iaun’s leg, muttered to himself and watched the sky as reddish smoke began to dim and befoul its dark spaces, cloaking the stars.

"We draw near to the Enemy," Iaun said, knowing Sérelókë would already have marked it well. Yet he could bear no more of the dreading, watchful silence.

"Splendidly obvious, Iaun," Sérelókë said as he sniffed the air. "It is quiet. Far more than it should be."

“Yes, I perceived that as well, brilliant one,” Iaun said with a rueful smile.

The closer they drew to the Fen of Serech, the thicker the air became, heavy and poisonous with an ever-growing smell of waste and filth, rotting and burning, life turned into death and worse.

Iaun knew at least some of the tangled parts of the complicated miasma of the stench - swamp water and ruptured flesh left to rot in the marsh.

Sérelókë's nose twitched almost comically, and he could not hide what had to be a sense of instinctual alarm. He and Certhasath were as brothers in this behavior with their jittery stomping. Iaun couldn't be certain for a moment which of the two he thought more likely to neigh.

“Are you all right?” Iaun asked, watching Sérelókë’s fair skin turn even paler, then slightly green, then back to its usual hue. “Have you never smelled this before?”

Sérelókë breathed deep and then winced as though he regretted it swiftly. “I have smelt battle before, once, but I was at a safe distance and buffered from it by the sweet winds of the sea. But what’s this? I know the smell of spilt Elven blood - and it was Elves who spilt it - but this . . . “

He gave a little gasp as the cliffs parted ahead of them, and they saw the full view of the vast Fen laid out before them. It was a wasteland of death and ruination.

After all he’d fought through and all he had lost, Iaun thought he should be glad to see so many dead and rotting Orcs, hewn to bits with great vigor and strewn across the wet valley as far as the eye could see. He was not.

Certhasath neighed. As one, Sérelókë and Iaun raised their cloaks across the lower half of their faces. Iaun reached in his kit and drew out a clay pot of an astringent salve --eye-watering in its own right, but with a clean scent of strong herbs, biting but refreshing. He smeared it between his nose and upper lip, and handed it to Sérelókë. “It helps a bit. With the smell.”

Sérelókë accepted it and did as Iaun had. He said nothing but, “You’ve attended to the dead after a battle before.”

“Yes,” Iaun said, nodding. “But . . . They were the dead of my own people. Not — these.”

“Well,” Sérelókë said. “Rest assured we shall not spend the time to clean up this mess. And these are . . . “ He kept muttering, descending into the valley. Although the horse was hesitant to follow, Iaun prodded him gently with his heels, not willing to risk letting Sérelókë out of his sight.

“Oh,” Sérelókë exclaimed softly again and again as he left Iaun and the horse standing still at the edge of the marsh, striding and sloshing amid scores of dead Orcs. Iaun longed to hold him back from touching the unclean things, but Sérelókë would not be deterred from his study: exclaiming over their hideous faces, bending low to examine their crude but effective armor and their primitive but lethal, brutishly made iron weapons.

Little good their fortress-forged armor had done them — though among the sea of dull grey and black and brown-fading gore, Iaun saw the occasional patch of shining steel, fair skin, and bright hair that caught the starlight.

“They did not even stop, or leave anyone behind to care for their own,” Sérelókë said, because he had clearly spotted the same things also, pausing for a moment to gaze into lifeless Elven eyes. “Is that considered as negligent among your people as it would be among the Noldor?”

“That is one word for it,” Iaun said tightly, as he kept his lips pressed taut while his chest roiled in disgust and anger.

“They are still engaged elsewhere,” Sérelókë said, gazing northward. “This was but the beginning of the battle. The end is not yet come.” Skirting the northwestern edge of the fens, the corpses grew less thick, and the riot of footprints of Elf, Orc, horse, giant wolf, and other beasts less known and unimaginable grew denser. Iaun though even Sérelókë would have no hope of deciphering them in any complexity, but he seemed to grasp the gist quickly.

“Here! Most of the Orcs are dead, but some survived long enough to retreat. They were pursued. There is a trail. The surviving Orcs are few.”

Still, there was something odd about Sérelókë's behavior. Iaun watched carefully as he stood for long moments staring into dead faces, his jaw working and lips moving as he seemed to be lost for a time in the unimaginable machinery of his mind.

For Iaun himself had a realisation of his own now, impossible as it seemed. "Sérelókë," he asked, feeling that he got closer to the pronunciation of that name with every attempt, or at least he was learning to feel the rhythm of its strange swirl around his lips and tongue and throat. "You look like you've never seen an Orc before."

"I had not,” Sérelókë admitted quickly with no hint of embarrassment. "There are none in Valinor."

"Truly a paradise it must be, then," Iaun said wryly.

"Then - have I simply never seen them," Sérelókë mused to himself, "Or do they truly never come to the Halls of Mandos? Surely if they come, it must be in great numbers, I would have observed the legions of them marching sooner or later, I spent enough time lurking about his gardens..." He did not appear to be speaking to anyone but himself. “Mandos keeps his own counsel, and so it remains possible for the Valar as a body to claim they know little of the Eldar who die here . . . and yet . . . “

"Er...why would they come there?" Iaun asked. “The Orcs, I mean.”

"You must have heard rumours of what they once were," Sérelókë said. "You are much closer to the source."

Iaun closed his eyes for a moment against the unexpected violent pang of horror and sorrow. "Yes . . . it is rumoured, yes. At least the first ones . . . long ago. Is it true, then?”

“I cannot confirm,” Sérelókë said. “The precise designs of Melkor are yet veiled from my sight, and the details of the torments of his domain unknown to me.”

“May they remain so,” Iaun said.

Sérelókë shook his head, and Iaun shivered in a damp, foetid breeze. Did Sérelókë not share his wish? “We draw our working ideas from what is known to us already. He longs to create life after his image in truth, but he cannot, and this is a source of constant rage to him. His gift lies in destruction, and worse than that - corrupting and twisting and reshaping to his will until all living things made to grow or walk upon Arda become the reflections of his . . . art. How complete are his remakings? Can he truly ruin for all time even that which was made immortal?”

Iaun felt nearly faint - with weariness, with the unhealthy vapors of the rotting marsh of death, with the weight of sorrow for a thousand years of prisoners. A fool he’d been to mourn the dead so deeply, when they were the fortunate ones.

Sérelókë turned his face to the north, nose wrinkling but unbowed as he inhaled deeply of the rank and unwholesome air. “Even knowing what I know, even having seen him with mine own eyes, I had underestimated Melkor’s dedication to his work, such as it is. Were his work of any other nature, it would almost be admirable. Perhaps this is why I have heard it whispered that the Maiar of Aulë are the quickest to succumb to his song. And not only the Maiar - had he but relaxed his obsession with the jewels, I would not be surprised if, in time, he could have had Fëanor himself instead.

"Before Melkor's first confinement," Sérelókë muttered to himself. "When he came crawling back begging forgiveness, he had left an army behind to breed in his absence. He never intended to forsake these lands. Any fool could have seen that. Why didn't they just listen?"

“Of whom do you speak?” Iaun looked up at him - and up indeed it was, why did he have to be so stunted according to the nature of his kind, why did Sérelókë have to be so stubbornly tall? Was he a Vala after all? Though in truth he was no taller than one of the greater Elvenkind. Even his face resembled those of the dead Eldar scattered among the Orcs like jewels in iron ore - angular, proud. Iaun could not tell by the eyes of the dead whether if in life they would have blazened with cool silver stars like Sérelókë's, but he would not be surprised by it if they did.

And yet there remained, still leaving its ghost behind in Iaun’s eyes, that light in the forest that hypnotized the spiders - the lights in Sérelókë's hands, the way he seemed to bring forth and shape the flame from nothingness, or perhaps from within himself.

Perhaps this was a gift given to those who have looked upon the Valar with their own eyes. Perhaps this was a power that came from the soil of the land of the deathless.

He was sure he was not imagining that Sérelókë was regarding him now with a look that pierced deep into him, and yet was - thankfully - not pity. Knowing now at least a little of how much Sérelókë saw, it was all Iaun could do not to flee that nearly-all-seeing gaze. Yet he had endured it so far, and with time and familiarity it might grow easier.

"Come, Iaun. We must follow the retreat and the pursuit."

"Well, if you wish to see more Orcs, and perchance some living, that is the right way to go," Iaun said ruefully. Above the smoke above the plain now, far away and yet not far enough, Iaun could see the highest points in all this land - the smoking, stinking slag-gateway called Thangorodrim. A dull roar of sound came to his ears now - indistinct and chaotic, echoing from the craggy walls of stone. From the center of his body came rolling waves of instinctual fear, unbidden and unbanishable, yet he kept his grip on Certhasath’s mane steady, determined to defeat it. Excitement, now - that was an impulse he could use.

Iaun had hoped to never come so close to the stronghold of the Enemy again. Well, so be it, if the weaves of his fate accounted him to die here, he supposed there was no escaping that. And yet, in his companion's brilliance and unlikely form of innocence, he felt something once again resembling hope.

“It is not done, then?” Iaun asked, feeling both relief and regret to think it might be. “We have not missed it all?”

Sérelókë’s eyes narrowed. “Oh no, no. No, we’re just in time if we hurry.” With a shockingly fast and lithe movement, he’d vaulted up behind Iaun on the horse’s back. “Run, Certhasath, run like the storm-wind, and we’ll send you off before it gets too deadly.”

 

***

 

Sérelókë scanned the burning horizon, peering over Iaun’s shoulder and Certhasath’s neck and head, far ahead to a dark beetling mass just shy of the mountains. As they drew closer, rapidly, he drew in breath, and subtly leaned in closer to Iaun, who held onto Certhasath’s mane and was clearly trying to stay stoic in the face of his own entirely justified terror.

For his part, the horse showed no hesitation, for clearly he perceived that he could not show less courage than the steeds of Fëanor’s cavalry, too many of whom now lay dead and dying on the trampled plain, along with their riders. To Sérelókë’s sight, it was clear that the Fëanorians had the upper hand and the likely victory, but it had not been bought cheaply.

Sérelókë himself could not help but shudder as the mountain range came into sharper focus, and he had at last an unobstructed view of the great peaks of Thangorodrim, the gates of Melkor’s fortress. They were not natural mountains shaped by the Song or by the natural movements of great plates of land; they were giant slag heaps full of fire within, volcanic refuse of a thousand years’ worth of the industry of war.

Now they could hear the shouts and cries, the threats and feints and taunts and boasts, all subsumed in the clanging of steel and the cleaving of flesh, and they could smell the horrific stench of the burning oils, the flaming projectiles from Angband’s trebuchets, and nearly feel the wakes of the stinging and burning arrows from both directions like swarms of deadly flies. “There! There is the banner of Fëanor’s house. Still standing. Stay back,” Sérelókë cried. “We cannot be seen.”

“Are we going to join the battle?”

“Would you ally yourself with either side?” Sérelókë hissed. “You might not if you had seen what I’ve seen.”

“Then why are we here?” Iaun looked puzzled, as though his brave warrior’s heart knew only one purpose when battle loomed near. Simplicity manifest - and yet not so, complexity beneath the surface, as Sérelókë had seen in him from the start. Simplicity can at times bring shining clarity, as well Sérelókë knew.

“To bear witness,” Sérelókë said. “Don’t be disappointed, we’re still in plenty of danger.”

“I’m not disappointed,” Iaun muttered, turning back and getting a face full of Sérelókë’s hair, whipped round by the hot, spiraling winds that raked the plain. As he moved Sérelókë could feel the solid strength of him, contained for now, prepared to burst forth in time of need. “Whatever this Fëanor has done or will do, I still cannot stand idle and watch the Enemy win.”

“The Enemy will not win this battle,” Sérelókë said with certainty. “But neither will he lose it, precisely.” Quickly now he swung down from Certhasath’s back and landed with a little bounce on the bloody ground, reaching out a hand to help Iaun. Iaun nodded at the offer but declined as he dismounted, trying not to visibly wince when his injured leg inevitably bent beneath him - and smiling when it did not. Sérelókë kept his secret smile to himself. He patted the noble horse on the rump, and sent him off to stand beneath a rock outcropping, to any observer nothing but a cavalry horse who had lost his rider.

Now, smaller, stealthier, Sérelókë and Iaun crept closer, sticking to the cover of rocks and reeking great heaps of Orc bodies, and the shattered projectiles from Angband’s great machines.

“Oh - oh, there, they go,” Sérelókë cried as a small group detached itself from the vanguard and charged ahead, pursuing the retreating army of Angband as fast it could go. At the head flew Fëanor’s banner, bold and ragged and held high against the burning sky - into the very heart of the rising flame at the gates of Angband. The remainder of the Orc army fell in behind him and engaged pitched battle with kin that he’d abandoned as Fëanor and his closest companions plunged into the heart of the storm, fire gleaming on their red-plumed helms and shining crimson on their armour of shiny fish-scale steel. Crude black iron came after them from the rear. “Fool. Could not hold back until reinforcements arrived. Yet who could not have foreseen that?”

“Stay back,” Sérelókë said to Iaun firmly. “This foe is beyond you and there is no shame in that.” Iaun started to grasp at his arm to hold him back - so fearful for Sérelókë’s sake, so quickly - why? - and then his face froze in horrified awe as Sérelókë began to let his body melt away into the realm where his half-forgotten thoughts went, stored away in the ordered spiral towers of his mind.

Sérelókë could not watch Iaun watching him, he had to focus on the act of unfocusing — for to walk unclad without any of the matter of the world was not quite so simple a thing outside of Valinor. If Sérelókë were not careful, matter would begin to reconvene about his spirit, shaping itself into a ghostly outline of the shape he had most recently worn (and he was thankful that shape happened to be the one he found most comfortable, not certain others he had formed for the sake of convenience or stealth or productive deception in the past).

But in no shape at all, that was the only way he could get close to the heart of the pitched battle without being spotted and attacked - quite possibly by both sides, which would be a most irritating distraction. Since he was quite certain Fëanor’s forces held the advantage for the time being and were likely to keep it unless Melkor himself took the field, Sérelókë had no desire to influence the outcome - only to witness it clearly for every pertinent detail.

“What are you doing? Where are you?” Iaun said, obviously awed and frightened. “What are you?”

“Ssshh, Iaun, it’s quite all right,” Sérelókë said, a bit crossly, for even an audible voice was a manifestation that added weight. “Just getting myself into a form that will help me get closer safely. Ah, and I can see farther as well, being unlimited by material eyes. Fascinating. I deem it nearly certain that Melkor will not come forth himself. I have no doubt Fëanor thought he would, the vain fool. ‘Yes, of course, I’ll bring the jewels right out where everyone can see them’ - if Fëanor was too proud to do that, why would he imagine Melkor would . . . Oh, but he is bringing out the big weapons, isn’t he?” Sérelókë felt a rising thrill as he looked at the line of fire spreading across the entrance to Angband.

Drums beat - deep and dark, through the ground as though they came from the very fissures within the earth that shifted and rended themselves asunder, revealing veins of molten rock and deadly clinging fire. Angband was sending forth its most terrifying warriors yet.

Fortunately, Iaun seemed to be adjusting quickly to listening to someone he could no longer see. “What? What is it?”

Sérelókë knew Iaun could not see his gleeful smile, but he could possibly hear it in his voice. “Valaraukar. Demons of might. Shadow and flame.”

Iaun scrambled closer to the top of the rock they hid behind, peering over the edge. They could hear drumming now, and war-cries, and see thin filaments of flame, of the deadly fire-whips. Surrounded by hulking armored trolls, the tall and mighty beings marched, with their fierce horned heads and stony skin cracked throughout by red flame within. “Balrogs,” he murmured. “With wings.”

“I’m going to get closer,” Sérelókë said.

“Isn’t that dangerous?”

“Oh, my dear Iaun Hossiôn, it is dangerous,” Sérelókë said with delight, losing a little control of his ethereality in his excitement to shimmer back into vision again, if not at all solid, and to Iaun the green-grey gleam of his eyes was fey in the distant light of the flickering flames. “Very dangerous. Much I know of their kind that is not known in this land. There was a little problem I solved some time ago - two Teleri brothers near to piercing each other to the heart in a passionate wager, with a ship as its price.”

Iaun felt this was hardly the time to share reminiscence, as the drumbeat of the giant’s steps came closer. Yet Sérelókë also was a flame, and one that held the eye and stayed the hand.

“And it was?”

“Nearly a first kinslaying, not to be such a widely-told tale as the greater,” Sérelókë said with a grim little smile. “The argument was over whether Balrogs have wings at all.”

“And do they?”

“That is why it’s so very dangerous,” Sérelókë said with glee, fading into invisibility again, but long did the shine of his eyes linger. “They have them, yes - but only during their mating season.”

Iaun cursed quietly, an oath Sérelókë had not heard before, and for a moment the clear mist of pure Ainur spirit that Sérelókë had become swirled around him and covered him. Sérelókë wanted Iaun to feel him near, and he had no hands to do anything as mundane as pat his companion’s shoulder to steady his heart. He left enough gleam in the air that Iaun could possibly still see him glittering in the starlight for a few moments more. Then Sérelókë left him, to speed towards the battlefield in unencumbered haste.

With unerring instinct, Sérelókë followed the Light of Valinor as it still clung to the Noldor, though diminished and darkened by their own crimes and their own doom. Quickly did he go, for this light drew him, even as it was absorbed into the red volcanic glow of the Valaraukar.

Sérelókë allowed himself to indulge in awe for the ferocity of the Noldor, and the fearless glory that streamed from them as they charged forward, hesitating not, calling challenge to their enemy, the Dark Lord Morgoth as they named him now, the most reviled, he whom they would pursue to destruction and death, be it his or theirs.

There may once have been a moment when Sérelókë had considered the possibility of claiming a Silmaril to bring to Yavanna, to win by cleverness what Fëanor could not take by force. Perhaps. When he saw the viciousness of Fëanor and his sons in the grip of their madness, he abandoned that idea forever. Though he was not one to quail at curses, he saw now that no good would ever come of those jewels again, their beauty unchanged but now as that of bait for a trap set with poison.

For days already had the Fëanorians fought, laying the Orc hosts low at the Fens and at Mithrim and now at the very gates of Angband, pressing into the very heart of Dor Daedeloth. Fëanor had rushed ahead with few friends, having lost all sense of strategy in his frenzy for vengeance. Could he not see how outnumbered he was now? How he’d had his own life and those of his companions balanced on a blade’s edge? Did he not see he was surrounded?

If he saw, he cared not. Fëanor had given up all regard for his own life. And now clearly Sérelókë could see that he would lose it. There could have been no other outcome once that oath was sworn. Sérelókë allowed himself a moment of sorrow, for Fëanor could have made many great works still had he not succumbed to such pride, and to waste such a mind in rash violence was a great shame.

But only a moment, and only a little sorrow, for Sérelókë had to remain an unclothed spirit and be prepared to shift again if needed, for fortunes and positions can change quickly in battle. Emotions added weight, and some of them more than others.

***

Stuck back at the rocks, Iaun seethed in frustration, close enough to the most frenzied pitch of battle that flame and sword flash were visible in the red firelight, but he could not be sure at all of what was happening. It did not sit well with his nature to hang back in safety while others risked themselves and suffered, though he could tell that one lone warrior would have little to contribute to the outcome. Sérelókë had been right about that.

If only he could see what was happening. He burned with curiosity for a closer look at these fierce, furious Eldar returned from the West - and many who had been born there - yet more than that, he hoped to at least gain a sense of where Sérelókë might be and what he was doing.

Iaun heard soft hoofbeats behind him, and a gentle whicker with a strange hushed quality - for Iaun could almost swear, though he’d never heard quite that sound before, it was the voice of a horse whispering.

He looked back cautiously to see Certhasath watching him, tossing his head and glancing off to one side.

Now Iaun could see what the noble horse had spotted, that Iaun had missed before. There was a fissure in the rock face, and great shards of shale tall as trees had split off from the cliff and formed a sort of fence, broken and leaning with great gaps in between. Behind them, against the main body of the plateau, there was a narrow sandy channel where a horse might run swiftly and not be spotted by distracted fighters if his luck - and that of his rider - held true.

Iaun smiled. He would put trust in his luck, and that of the great horse of the Valar - for he had always been fond of games of chance, and had his luck not already seemed to have improved since he met the mysterious Sérelókë?

“You’re almost as smart as he is,” Iaun murmured as Certhasath bowed low enough to allow Iaun to mount with dignity. “And a good deal more considerate.”

Certhasath trotted steadily along the path, twitching his tail hard enough to lash Iaun’s leg with it as he moved, gauging his own speed by what he saw ahead. Certhasath was no fool, and he was not wont to spook easily, and it made Iaun wonder about the strange things the horse must have seen in the service of the Hunter.

Iaun had never been so close to a Balrog before - close enough to feel the heat, he imagined, great stifling waves of it, though perhaps that was an illusion produced by the sight alone.

This must be the Balrog lord Gothmog himself, so great was he in size and the waves of terror that streamed from him, adorned with cruel iron and bone trophies of honour (or what passed for such in Angband), as he strove with that radiant, furious Elf lord who must be Fëanor - a spirit of fearsome fire in his own right. Red whip and bright sword clashed again and again; bright sword deflected black axe, but that left the whip of fire free to strike again and again.

This was Iaun’s first good look at the Noldor, the Elven line that had diverged so much from his own through long ages in the bliss of Aman, grown tall and regal and proud. They had brought themselves low in this battle they could not win - but they had not entirely lost it either, for Melkor’s forces were scattered and frightened, torn apart by a skill and ferocity they had not expected.

For many hours, this savage struggle waged. Iaun grew weary with the long vigil and his heart gave pangs of grief within him. His thighs and lower back ached but he dared not dismount. Certhasath would do naught to aid that if Iaun chose to, for he too perceived it was well to be ready for flight in the change of an instant. It was agony to watch the struggles of Fëanor with Gothmog, for it was becoming clear to him that the Elven king could not win this match, and yet his courage and purpose would give no quarter. Fëanor had a mighty will, and yet it only served to work against him, to hold him in place for his death. Without that, he would have lived many ages of the world. Now he stumbled as the whip of fire lashed into him again and again.

Iaun supposed that somewhere in his hidden heart, he might have hoped that somehow, intervention would come. That the long-revered and rarely-seen Valar would step in. That this mysterious Sérelókë, who clearly had powers beyond Iaun’s ken, would intervene. Now it was clear that he either would not or could not. Iaun searched the air around for a sign of him, and saw naught but glittering specks of dust.

With grief, Iaun watched as the Elf-lord collapsed, still cursing Morgoth from his blood-flecked lips that streamed smoke from within, as his friends and kin rushed to his defense, and to carry him away to heal, perhaps, or to die, more likely.

And then the glittering dust coalesced into a form: a being as tall as Morgoth’s warlord, clad in and made up of a sort of flame of his own emanation, though his fire was the colour of the stars, cool white and blue and crisp and cold. He seemed to draw power from the dark sky where it showed clean and pure between the clouds, and for a moment the stinking clouds of foul gas from Thangorodrim parted and let Iaun see those stars clearly once again. Iaun imagined their twinkling had taken on a note of shock and amazement.

“Gothmog,” rang out a deep voice. “Fallen Maia. Brother of mine among the Ainur. Who changed your tune to sing with Melkor, and now you can do naught but destroy. Turn to me. Pick on one thine own size.”

Oh, Iaun thought. Oh. For the tall being of cold blue light wore a face that was now familiar - though the grim, gleeful purpose in his expression was new.

What are you, Sérelókë?

For a moment, Iaun felt a strange and passing sadness, and recognized in that instant he had believed that Sérelókë was close enough to his equal that they could be friends and, mayhap, more. But now as Iaun watched in horror and awe, he saw that any fellowship between them must be unbalanced.

Nonetheless, he could not take his eyes away from the spectacle before him, as Sérelókë and the Balrog circled each other, trading taunts and the shimmering bursts of fire produced by their single combat - white and red, cold and hot, embers and ice. Certhasath shifted and seethed beneath him, and Iaun petted his neck, unsure who he was reassuring most.

Did the Balrog lord Gothmog even notice that his personal guard were falling one by one, hacked to pieces by the remaining Noldor who had arrived behind Fëanor’s headstrong rush, now enraged anew by their leader’s fall?

Or was Gothmog completely distracted now by his unexpected challenger, his unforeseen equal, and his whip and his taunts? That lash of cold fire around his throat seemed to hurt him terribly. Iaun had not thought anything could.

Iaun nearly revealed his own hiding place by crying out in fear as Gothmog’s whip lashed Sérelókë, and his black axe swung around to cleave him. Iaun leaned forward far over Certhasath’s neck as Sérelókë counterstruck and disarmed him. Iaun wondered how such beings as Gothmog came to be, if they arose from the same thought of Eru’s as Sérelókë himself - and how many of his kind served Melkor, and what would Sérelókë be like if he were turned to the darkness, falling into the power of destruction and cruelty, growing in brute strength even as his energy turned to evil? Was that how Balrogs were made?

Sérelókë seemed to think so, as read in his taunts to Gothmog. Yet another force was needed beyond mere evil will - Gothmog had changed under Melkor’s own touch.