Thuringwethil materialized out of the shadows. “I have the spy reports, master.”
“I thought I told you to knock,” Mairon groused. A mine shaft had collapsed earlier, and while it hadn’t been a particularly valuable one, the clean-up efforts had exhausted his patience. “I’m not looking at any more reports today. Just leave them there.” He pointed at a corner of his overloaded desk.
Instead of obeying, she perched on the desk herself, crossing her legs and flipping through the pages. “You’ll be interested in this. I think I’ve found a solution for your Edain problem.”
Mairon perked up at that. The Edain had been slowly swelling in number and strengthening their friendships with the Elves. He’d seen himself how sturdy and bold Men could be in battle, and that alliance needed to be broken before it got out of hand. “Do share.”
“They aren’t all content to follow the bidding of their little elf-lords. There’s going to be an assembly to discuss their continued presence, and we believe these two to be the main leaders of the opposition. Bereg and Amlach.” She pulled out two sheets and laid them down. Mairon scanned the profiles while he listened. “Now, Amlach seems to be on the fence, as it were—he doesn’t like the dangers his people have encountered here.” She preened a little, and Mairon wondered how many infants had been found drained and lifeless in their cradles. “But he isn’t going to push hard enough against the majority. I think we should set some stirring words in his mouth.”
Mairon lifted his gaze to hers. She was beaming, her dark eyes alight with mischief. “That sounds like quite an important task.”
“Much too important to leave to anyone else,” she happily agreed. “I get to come along though, right?”
With a sigh, Mairon looked back at his towering stacks of reports. The siege was consuming their resources faster than he liked, and he’d taken the daily operations of Angband firmly in hand. He hadn’t even made time for the forge lately. “Maybe I should just send you. I’m sure you’ll do a good job.”
“No, no, no. You get far too grouchy when you’re shut up in here all the time. You’re coming with me. Besides, it’s going to take some complicated enchanting. Getting a whole speech caught in his head? I don’t think I’m up to that.”
Mairon’s smile was full of pointed teeth. “We aren’t putting anything in his head. I have a better idea.” He rose and reached for his crown. “Oh, Thuri? There’s a slave girl in the infirmary who broke her leg in the cave-in. You can have her. Well done.”
Licking her lips, Thuringwethil hopped down and knelt to kiss her master’s hand.
Mairon paused in the doorway. His heart still beat faster whenever he looked on his lord in his majesty. Melkor reclined on his throne, playing with the length of a whip, coiling and uncoiling the braided leather. The floor was slick with blood. Melkor must have disciplined the captains responsible for today’s minor catastrophe himself. Mairon wished he could have watched. He shivered in longing, imagining his lord’s glower as he wrung scream after scream from the hapless orcs and Maiar. Neither fools nor failure were tolerated. As it should be. Feeling Melkor’s eyes upon him, he crossed the throne room and sank gracefully to his knees. Only a couple of Balrogs remained at this hour, and Mairon didn’t mind what they saw, so he bent further and kissed Melkor’s boots before gazing up at him with parted lips and flushed cheeks.
Melkor gave him a weary smile. “Come to entice me to bed, little flame? I’m waiting on the final tally of our losses in the mines.”
“They’re still clearing the rubble; we won’t know if the shaft can be stabilized until tomorrow. It wasn’t our best quality iron ore anyway. I have something to cheer you up.” Mairon outlined his plans and watched the exhaustion evaporate from his lord as his cleverness sank in.
“And you’ll only be away a few days? I can’t spare you for longer.”
“We’ll fly, Thuri and I; it won’t take long.”
“Very well. Make me proud.” Melkor stretched and rose. Mairon squeaked in surprise when he scooped him off the dais and slung him over his shoulder. By the time Melkor deposited him on their bed, he was already achingly hard and eager. Melkor set aside the Silmarils and turned to him with hunger in his eyes.
Mairon and Thuringwethil sat in a tree, their bat wings wrapped around them, watching the man in the clearing below. Draugluin had spooked his horse and driven him expertly away from his companions, and now he was setting up camp, knowing better than to continue his search by night. Mairon made a mental note to reward his wolf handsomely when they got back to Angband.
“If you’re still bent on stealing his face, one of us will have to read his fëa. That means fucking him.”
Mairon hummed agreement. There were other methods of looking into his soul and grabbing the pattern of his being, but none so quick and easy.
“I…guess that falls to me, then.” Her mouth was set and grim.
“What kind of master would I be if I let you do that? You hate lying with men.”
“But Lord Melkor—”
“Will only praise me for carrying out a deception so well. He isn’t jealous like that, Thuri.”
She smirked. “It’s not like you’ll enjoy it either; there’s no way his dick will satisfy you after you’ve had Melkor’s.”
“Who said anything about taking his dick?”
“He is not going to let you fuck him. I’ll bet on it.”
“I’m actually pretty good at this. You’ll see.”
“I’ll see; you’ve got that part right.”
Three hours later, Mairon was cringing inside, imagining Thuri laughing at him from the trees and her mocking “I told you so.” It hadn’t been hard to worm his way into Amlach’s arms, where he sat now making out and tracing his fingers over his victim’s face in sweet caresses that disguised his memorization. It wouldn't be enough for what he intended, but the visuals would make his task easier. A sob story about being lost in the wilderness, a few flattering compliments, and some whispers of how alone he felt had been all he needed to get the man’s strong hands all over him.
“You’re so very lovely, but…I’ve never been with another man,” Amlach murmured against his throat.
“I can show you,” Mairon purred, arching into Amlach’s touch and nibbling appealingly at his ear. “I can make you feel so good…” He slipped a hand into Amlach’s trousers and ran his fingers down his cleft. Amlach recoiled. Shit. “Oh, you misunderstand,” he said, nuzzling under Amlach’s chin and pushing into his lap, shivering, trying to look meek and desperate. “I want to feel your strength against me. Inside me. I want to feel safe from all the horrors out there—” He shivered again, and Draugluin howled as if on cue. “Please, won’t you take me and keep me warm tonight?” Internally he cursed his luck and Thuri’s teasing that had put his pride on the line. He shouldn’t have endangered this seduction just because he wanted to be on top for once.
“Sweet thing.” Amlach stroked his cheek and kissed him again softly. “You don’t have to do that to earn safety. I won’t let anything befall you.”
Mairon bowed his head a little and looked up through his lashes. It never failed to drive Melkor to violent lust. “I was so frightened out there in the woods. I'm so glad I found someone to protect me.” He felt the man’s cock hardening once more against his thigh. Yes, this was a better tack.
“Let's lie down together. You needn’t do anything else; I'm happy to have such pleasant company.”
Mairon followed him and snuggled into his arms. Amlach's breath hitched when Mairon’s ass brushed against his cock, and Mairon pretended surprise. “And here I thought you didn't really want me, after all.”
Amlach groaned. “I shouldn't. I feel like I'm taking advantage.”
“How could you be, when I want it too? We’ll probably never meet again, but I should like to always remember the handsome stranger who sheltered me from the darkness and turned my fear to pleasure.”
Amlach pushed him over, and his mouth descended on Mairon's. Mairon let him take the lead in pulling off their clothes, and they rolled nearer the fire for warmth. While the man's eyes devoured him, Mairon reached up and stroked his beard. He couldn't decide if he liked it or not.
“What now?” Amlach asked, his voice husky with desire.
“Have you any oil?”
“Oil? I suppose…yes, for my sword.” His eyes lit up. “Aha. For my sword, eh?”
Mairon obligingly laughed along at the tired joke and nodded, blushing. He considered whether it would be simpler to kill the man and puppet his dead body. No, people will see him up close; it always shows in the eyes. He smiled as Amlach returned with a vial and poured oil into his hand. He couldn't afford to let any distaste show. Spreading his legs enticingly, he reached for the vial and pressed an oiled finger into himself. Melkor had fucked him again just before he left, and it wouldn't do to have Amlach wondering at how loose and slippery he already felt.
Amlach bent over him, kissing tenderly as he stroked himself, then he surprised him by tentatively licking the head of his cock. Mairon gasped at the unexpected pleasure. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad.
“Does that feel good?” Amlach asked.
“So very good,” Mairon murmured. He wanted to take it back seconds later when Amlach took him in his mouth. He was unpractised, sure, but worse, he was soft. Mairon longed for a burst of real feeling, a bloom of bright, sweet pain, rough friction that could lift him into ecstasy. This was boring. He put up with the light caress of Amlach's tongue long enough, he hoped, to make him feel appreciated. “Please, my savior, I need you in me.”
Amlach drew back, and the dark lust in his eyes was almost enough to revive Mairon’s interest. He let Mairon guide him inside, following the pace he set. Mairon kept it slow, catching his breath as if it were hard to take but too good to refuse. He would have liked to pull Amlach's hips down fast enough to make himself scream, but he was certain that would prove unnerving.
“You’re so beautiful like this,” Amlach whispered. “I never imagined…” He shook his head. “How is it? Will you be all right if I move?”
“Please.” He thrust toward him with small, shy motions, and Amlach took the invitation with careful restraint. Almost immediately Mairon found himself wishing for it to be over. He despised this gentle, gullible man. He didn't want to feel his pleasure; he wanted to hear him whimpering in fear and pain. It wouldn't do. They both needed to come for their fëar to touch. He pictured Amlach on his knees, Mairon's knife dragging across those broad shoulders while he sobbed and begged for mercy, thought of forcing those pretty lips to his boots and making him clean away his own blood. That helped; Mairon moaned as he shifted and tilted his hips until Amlach started hitting the right spot. He could tell it wouldn't be enough. He let his eyes drift shut.
Melkor is pounding into him; his ass is sore and burning, and Melkor feels huge. He is breathless and giddy as Melkor forces another orgasm from him, tells him “Good boy,” and keeps right on going while he howls.
He was a little sore from earlier, and that made it more real. He was grateful for his habit of never healing away that particular pain. Amlach was breathing harder and biting his lip. Surely it wouldn't be much longer.
Surely it won’t be much longer. Melkor's hand is clenched around his throat; he can neither breathe nor sob as Melkor brings the cane down on his ass again and again. Each stroke hits him like a lightning bolt, and he shudders with it, arching his back. His body can scarce contain the feeling. He wonders if he'll ever be welcomed again in the Timeless Halls. He thinks the next stroke might send him there.
He cried out, shaking as he came. Amlach was coming too; he thrust deeply and grunted, and there it was, the brush of his fëa reaching out toward Mairon's. With a breath and a twist of the Music, Mairon encompassed it in his own, not so tight as to capture and draw it from him, but enough to perceive its entirety. Amlach slumped over him. After a moment he stirred and pressed a kiss to Mairon's throat.
“Mmm. For a moment there you shone like a star that had fallen. My beautiful lost flame…”
Mairon Sang him into a deep sleep before he could spout any more nonsense.
“The enchantments are ready,” Thuringwethil told him when he rejoined her in the trees. “He'll wander in circles for hours tomorrow.”
Mairon nodded wearily.
“So, master,” she smirked. “You gonna pay up?”
“Whatever you want, Thuri. Whatever you want.”
Amlach raced toward the assembly. His mysterious guest had been gone when he woke, and in his worry and care, he'd somehow gotten so turned around that it had taken all day to find his road. He hadn’t even gotten the man's name. Well…man in but one sense. He didn't say as much, but he must be one of the strange and ancient elves, with that burning light in his eyes. Amlach sighed. He’d never looked at men the way he looked at maidens, and now he was realizing he’d perhaps missed out. He wondered if that should trouble him. He'd never forget that night or the fiery-haired elf, so delicate and fair, trembling and clenching around him in the throes of passion.
Light shone from the mead-hall, and laughter spilled from its lintels. Amlach dismounted and hurriedly unsaddled his horse. Deliberations were sure to go long into the night, but he didn't want to miss more than he already had. His followers would be looking for him. As he turned to walk up the hill, he froze, his blood chilled in his veins. It couldn't be. He stared at the man walking down, and his own face stared back.
While Amlach’s eyes widened and he stuttered, unable to frame words, the Amlach who was not him began to laugh. He laughed like crows, like howling wolves, like the north winds that blew from Angband. As he laughed, his face melted away, and the beautiful stranger he'd held in his arms stood there laughing at him instead.
“It's certainly a night to remember, isn't it, Amlach? I do so appreciate your little gift.”
“What have you done? Who are you?! What have you done?!!”
The elf laughed some more. His eyes shone with an uncanny light that Amlach suddenly thought was not at all like other elves he'd seen. “Why don't you find out?” He melted once more, this time into swirling smoke that curled around him like bat wings, and the last things Amlach saw before he faded completely were his fiery glowing eyes and his smile too full of pointed teeth.
“Amlach!” Bereg clapped him on the shoulder when he stepped inside. “I must say, you even shook me, but it got the job done. ‘Elf-lore is all lies,' indeed! We've got family after family agreeing to leave with us for free lands. You should be proud!”
Amlach glared at him and tore away. “I said no such thing. This is all wrong!”
His cousin marched toward him with anger plain on her face. “How could you?!” spat Adanel. “I thought you were better than this. That at the very least you wouldn't put down those who've been so kind to us and granted their protection against the evils of the North!”
Amlach paled. “I didn't want this. I swear to you, whatever you heard me say, that was not me!”
“You expect anyone to believe that?!”
“Listen. What the elves say—about untold horrors that lurk in the woods—the spies and servants of the Dark Lord—I think it's true! I think I met one!” Amlach covered his face and sought to hide the tears that were gathering in his eyes. “Please, I’ve had my doubts, but I wouldn't…I wouldn't. Do you hear me?”
Adanel looked unsure.
Amlach glanced around and noticed a number of the Elf-friends who seemed unsettled by his words. “Witness my oath!” he cried. “The words I spoke here were not my own. I will do whatever it takes to make this right. I have now a quarrel of my own with this Master of Lies, which will last to my life’s end.” He pointed toward Halmir. He'd always loved the elves and listened to all their stories. “My friend. Tell me again about that elf-lord. The one who suffered. Who turns away none who wish to fight.”
“I think you mean Lord Maedhros.”