The bat-fay looked up her Master with eyes that begged of need. Would He honor her this night, or would He disapprove of her dance and her song of love, sending her away unfulfilled into the darkness of the Tower? Her breath came in panting gasps as she sighed, her body and wings trembling, the sweat gleaming on her body in a glistening sheen. A chill wind stirred as the jeweled chamber faded into darkness. She was certain that the sudden coolness was a sign of His rejection, and her heart withered within her breast.
Though she had taken many lovers - elves, men, and those of her own kindred - she was jealous of the others who, at times, would bring the Dark Lord comfort. Those maidens of fire possessed spirits far brighter than hers, which was of dark winds and silvery nights. Sauron clung to them, she knew, and cleaved unto them, for they were of like kind. Indeed, she was not the only one who writhed in ecstasy at His touches, though He was less desirous of the flesh than was His Master Melkor.
Perhaps Sauron's practice of abstinence was what made Thuringwethil more possessive of Him and resentful of the others. She knew that this desire was wicked and selfish, for none could rule the Ruler of Middle-earth, but she could not help that absence kindled the hot, stormy winds of her heart. None could match His prowess or His passion, or calm the savagery of her untamed lusts. Thuringwethil was not His only love, but she was content most of the time that she was at least one of them.
She felt His moody eyes upon her in the darkness as He sat on the bed, His arms folded, His back leaning against the cushioned headboard. "He is displeased with me," she thought in dismay, and lowered her head in shame and humility.
"Any creature of mortal flesh has the ability to bleat out its lust. Do not expect Me to satisfy your cravings. Do not tell Me of your aching needs; I do not give into My urges lightly," He said contemptuously. "I would hear of things other than your unslaked thirst for My flesh! Sing a renewed song for Me, but if you can sing no better than you have this night, begone from My chambers and trouble Me no more!"
Thuringwethil's spirits wilted and her wings drooped in her misery. He had rejected her! She bit her lip to keep the tears from springing to her eyes.
"I shall do better this time, Master," she whispered, greatly abashed.
"The pain is great upon Me tonight, and little can bring Me solace. Perhaps, though, suffering is beneficial and will mold Me into a Being of greater purity. Compose for Me melodies that tell of what I love more than all else, Middle-earth! Sing to Me now, My bat-fell, My Thuringwethil, My creature of dark spun gossamer beauty. Sing to Me of the things that are in your soul. Bring to My remembrance Tol Sirion when Arda was younger and My cares were not so great. Speak to Me of nights when the moon hung dead in the sky and you walked upon enchanted feet in the dew-drenched vales of mist and time."
Thuringwethil watched Him, her fingers clutching the edge of His couch, and then she began to sing, her voice as soft and sweet as any songbird of Manwë. Her song was wistful, filled with a longing, a yearning, for days gone by. She told of when they would stroll hand in hand upon the shores of the River Sirion as the werewolves of the island serenaded them with howls, the melodies of the dark and dreamy night.
The moon hung full over Tol-en-Gaurhoth, glinting over the towers of Minas Tirith as the bats wheeled about it, but the riverbank was bathed in fog and they were surrounded in a world of mists and steams. Phantoms and shades passed by them, skittering into the darkness at their approach and peering out at their passing. Many were the rapturous nights when she had leaned her head upon Sauron's shoulder and sighed peacefully, very much in love with Him and His growing power.
Thuringwethil had been messenger then between the isle of Tol Sirion and Angband, delivering messages between her Masters. She would don her winged-draped bat form and fly soundlessly through the nights, singing wordless songs that were unheard to those of mortal ears.
Though she had longed to feel the heat of Melkor pressed between her thighs, she found that He had not time for her that night. Instead, He bade her depart and take with her a message bound for Tol Sirion and Sauron. She had been offended, for the message was not one of urgency and there was no need for her to be sent away so quickly. Strong were her suspicions that Melkor was taking His sport with elf maids, and crushing their virtue in His bed chambers.
"Flimsy, frail creatures," she thought resentfully. "They will die soon enough." But jealousy still burned within her heart.
Angry, impatient and filled with unresolved lusts, Thuringwethil decided that there was no haste needed in taking the dispatch to Tol Sirion, and so she would dally a while in Taur-nu-Fuin. In that place of dark enchantment where the trees grew close and dark together, the nightshade blooming beneath their twisted roots, Thuringwethil would find many eager for her favors. In a wood black and deadly, laced with spells of dark and evil portent, the unfortunate traveler lost and not knowing his way would find his mind overcome by its horrors. There, amidst shades and phantoms, his senses reeling, he would think his body was being absorbed by the cool mists and vapors that traced trails of filmy miasmas through the morbid air. Then, shrieking and screaming, he would run, both from himself and from the terrors about him, his sanity departing from him as he fled.
Low over the trees she flew, her ears keen, yearning to hear the song of the phantoms who could tease her with icy lips or cool, trailing fingers that sought and found all the sensitive places along her sensuous body. Though they would oft appear as but a vapor to lesser beings, to one of her kind, their forms would take shape before her eyes, and thrust inside her until she was at last gorged with their milky flow. The fell shades, though unseen to mortals, were beings of great power, and both the giver and receiver of the pleasure would be strengthened after the exchange.
Though she listened keenly to hear one of their wailing calls, she heard nothing but the echoing silence of the night. Then she heard a shriek, chilling, fearful in its spectral urgency. She glided down between the trees, and when her clawed toes had touched the spongy surface of the ground, she sensed beneath her feet a chamber and an undead presence. Then the thing clawed great handfuls of the dirt aside and rose out of the earth to meet her.
She stood atop an old barrow of the folk of Dorthonion that lay beneath the shadowy, anguished trees of the Forest under Nightshade. Years had passed since the people of Dorthonion had fled from the wrath of Melkor, and the only evidence that life had once held sway there was the ruins of old houses, barrow stones and mounds, and fading memories. Her pulse quickened at the sight of him, but his form was hidden by the tattered burial shroud which adorned the withered body that he now possessed.
"Hail, Messenger of Sauron," he saluted her, his pale spectral eyes glowing from empty eye sockets. "Why art thou abroad tonight, and why hast thou come to my abode?"
"I bear a dispatch from Melkor the Mighty and destined for Tol Sirion... but the message is not a pressing one. There is time to tarry." She looked at him and smiled seductively.
"The body of the one that I wear has not known pleasure for many years, and thy fair form could not bear its incorporeality," he wailed mournfully.
"I vow to that!" she chuckled, her eyes surveying the cadaverous body. "But the spirit beneath those foul trappings is fair enough! I perceive that thou art an elf who has lingered here out of love for Melkor."
"Aye, what thou sayest is true. I am an elf, and I make no boasts or false claims that I found the promised largess of Morgoth harsh to my ears." He laughed, a hollow, dead sound. "The rewards were far more pleasing than the tortures I endured! Irons heated to white fury and driven into flesh that has been flayed open, oozing with blood and corruption, can be most persuasive. I cannot say that I was disappointed with His gifts, for they were generous, but the cost of them was high."
He moaned, a forlorn yearning sound that drifted away and was caught amongst the boughs of the trees. "All He required of me was a scrap of knowledge that had been denied unto Him. He promised that neither He nor His men would slay any if I but betrayed the location of the opening to a shaft, hidden in an offshoot from the main tunnel. Five of my fellows had secretly delved this passage amongst the twisting paths of the mines beneath Angband and had laid their plans to escape through it."
He sighed again. "I did not know of its location, but I promised that if the torture would cease and I would be free to go amongst them and labor in the mines, that I would listen and report all that I beheld. I heard nothing of import for some months, but then whilst I hid myself behind a column that supported the ceiling, I overheard two of them talking. Then I perceived their whispered plans and discovered whence the opening lay."
The shrouded form was racked with great shudders and groans. "When they were found out and brought, bound with great chains, Morgoth commanded that none of His thralls were to slay them and that all were to go free. Then He looked at me, and once again I was caught in His eyes. He commanded one of His men to toss me a sword. Morgoth's great voice boomed out and said to me, 'Free them and free them truly, or they shalt stay with Me for a very long time!'
"I understood His meaning. He had not forfeited His promise to me that neither He nor His men would slay them, for He had planned all along for me to do the deed. I knew what would be the penalty if I did not. He would torture them with the most heinous of torments, unyielding, unwilling to allow them to die, and would hold them in suffering bondage throughout the ages and force me to behold their agonies. I freed them with the sword, but I enslaved myself and my soul for all eternity!"
The elf-wraith looked at Thuringwethil with sad, wan eyes. "When the gate of Angband was opened for me, I was given a great treasure of jewels, sparkling wonders, my rewards. I longed to go back to my home, but I feared to take the gems and necklaces, the diadems, the rings, the bracelets, with me, and so I dug a hole in the earth and buried them and left them there. Then I made my way to my home. None trusted me, and I dwelt in constant fear that my deed would be discovered, or that someone would find where I had hidden my hoard. My rewards became torments; my blessings became cursings.
"Three years later, a gaunt wanderer came amongst my people. My face blenched when I saw him, and my heart rose in my throat, and I was greatly afraid. He had been set free from Angband and given a sword, belt, and sheath. Morgoth confided in him before he left that I was the one who had betrayed the others those years past. One of them was his brother, and he swore that when he found me, he would have his vengeance.
"My thoughts as I lay dying, my stomach ripped asunder, my bowels spilling upon the ground, were that I should give my slayer a reward like unto that which I had received. With my dying breaths, I imparted to him the knowledge of where I had buried the trove of jewels and, cursing him, told him to take the payment for his deed. As the blood rose in my throat and gurgled from the sides of my mouth, I tried to laugh... and then I died." There was a dry, rasping sound like leaves being driven by a scorching breeze, rattling along cobblestones in the autumn.
He let the shroud fall away from his face, and Thuringwethil frowned when she beheld only shreds of decaying flesh covering skeletal cheeks.
"Dost my visage displease thee, fair messenger of Morgoth and Sauron?" he taunted. "Wouldst thou wish for me to cleave unto thy bosom! Though I knowest that thou wouldst that I could impale thee with a dagger of flesh, there is naught here to be had!" He threw back his head and howled wildly.
"Cast aside the form which thou possesseth," she enticed, "and I shalt find thee more pleasing."
Laughing, she glided up to him, swaying her hips and stripping away the robe which covered her. She stood with one hip cocked to the side, her hands going to her chest, her fingertips smothering the pillows of her breasts. Then her hands wandered down, slithering across her smooth stomach, and then straying over her thighs.
"Thou art most bold and brazen!" he chuckled grimly. "And thou art far more perverse than even I, but, yes, I will commune with thee in the spirit."
The shrouded corpse fell lifeless to the earth and a pale mist wrapped around Thuringwethil, holding her about with spectral arms and breathing a cool, wispy mist into her ear. His icy voice was caressing as his misty tongue fondled her earlobe.
"Do as I command thee, and both thou and I shalt know pleasure. I shall feel the joys that thou feelest, and they will in turn bring me joy."
"Gladly," she purred.
Soon his spectral fingers guided hers, and her hands roamed over her own body, touching first here and then there until she fell to the earth groaning from the pleasure she brought to herself at his suggestions. As she lay upon the ground atop the barrow, his spirit enveloped her and soon her fingers left her writhing, wiggling and finally screaming out in ecstasy.
He sighed and rested above her like a luminous mist. "I have felt the memories in my spirit of the ecstasy when my strong staff pulsed in lust deep in the body of a woman. My spirit has longed to know such release once again after so many long years." She felt his misty lips on hers. "None, though, amongst the living come here now, and I have naught for company save the dead. Tarry with me yet a while, and I will bring thee much pleasure."
Long were the days and nights that Thuringwethil delayed with the elvish wight in the forest of Taur-nu-Fuin, and she lost all track of time, for what is time to the spirit of a Maia? It had seemed but a few moments that she had been with him when they heard a great howling and shrieking above them beyond the tops of the trees.
Thuringwethil knew that voice. "My Master!" she cried to the elf-wraith, but before she could get upon her feet and the spirit could take sanctuary in the earth, Sauron in bat form was upon them.
"Unfaithful!" He had thundered. "Wanton whore! Thou hast betrayed both Melkor and Me! My wrath is great against thee, but His shalt be far greater than Mine! Strumpet!" He cried as He grasped her by the hair and struck her face. He beat her again and again until she fell upon the ground, bloody and covered with wounds.
Sauron's eyes burnt with the flames of hell. "Wretch!" He called to her lover. "Thou hast made of Me a cuckold and I have caught thee in the act! Get thee gone unto the farthest most east and dwell there, never returning unto Beleriand! Thou art forbidden ever again to possess a body, no matter if it be man, beast, or fowl! Melkor and Sauron disavow thee and Mandos can have thee if he wants! Thou art accursed for ever!"
Sauron pulled Thuringwethil to her feet and grasped her roughly by her shoulders as she sobbed and whimpered. "Tol Sirion has fallen, and I was wounded sorely by the demon hound Haun! They drove Me away and I have taken refuge here. Now I prowl."
"Tol Sirion, my Lord?" she gasped in alarm. "I did not know! How - how? And why dost Thou roam these woods instead of returning to Tol Sirion or to Angband?"
"Let thy faithless lips be silent! I will hear no more of thy guile! My wounds were grievous, but My strength is secure once again after many long days. Come now, I take thee as prisoner to Angband. Thou wilt hear the telling of it then!"
Silently the two flew in vampire form back to Angband. In truth, Sauron had been afraid to go back to Melkor and admit His shame. There was great comfort, though, in thinking that Melkor's displeasure might be lessened when He returned to Him the wayward messenger whose awaited dispatch had never been delivered.
Great was the wailing when they returned to Melkor's halls. Disaster had overtaken Him, and great distress was upon the Ruler of Arda. Now only two Silmarils graced His iron crown, and Carcharoth the wolf had vanished. Catastrophe lay heavy upon the ebony halls of Angband.
"Where wert thou, Sauron? All these days hast thou been sought, and woefully those who looked for thee found the search futile. We had thought thee perhaps captive... or worse. Knowledge has already come to Me by My agents that Tol Sirion has fallen. Where hast Sauron been in those ensuing days?" Melkor stared down at them as though they were the dung of lizards.
"Master, I was grievously wounded and felt faint unto death. I would have hastened here, but My strength was spent. Lest I perish, I took rest in Taur-nu-Fuin, and there I found her dallying in a tryst." He stepped away from Thuringwethil and pointed at her with an accusing finger. "Her message was never delivered to Me!"
"The message was inconsequential," Melkor growled. Then His great hand pointed an accusing finger to Sauron. "Thou hast let Tol Sirion fall and failed to deliver Lúthien into My hands! She came here soon enough, though, and with her brought her lover!"
"Master, I did not know!" Sauron cried desperately. "How could I know? The demon beast Haun would have killed Me had I not relinquished the tower! I wouldst have come here in far worse shape than I am in now had that hell hound forced Me to relinquish My body!"
"And Sauron comest here, boasting of his own safety and not of his valor! Would that thou hast cometh back, stripped of thy body, and come in honor than to come back to Me in disgrace! While thou wert sniveling and cowering in the forest, and Thuringwethil was frolicking with yet another of her lovers, Lúthien came back to Tol Sirion in stealth and raided the tower!
"Where was the Great Sauron when the pelt of Drauglin was ripped from his body, and Lúthien's lover adorned himself in that enchanted fell?" Melkor bellowed in His rage. "Sauron was cowering in Taur-nu-Fuin!"
Sauron cringed before Him.
"And where was Thuringwethil when Lúthien took unto herself a disguise, that of the messenger! Together, in those false guises, they came here to Angband, to My very throne room, and stole a Silmaril!" The foundations of the great chamber shook with the might of Melkor's wrath, and ledges of rock along the sides of the Thangorodrim sheered loose and rumbled down the cliffs.
"Great have been your transgressions, and great shalt be your punishments! I have decreed this upon ye! First, Sauron of the greater guilt, thou shalt know the terrors of My wrath! Thy fiery locks shall be plucked from thine head one by one. Thou shalt hang thy head in shame as thy back knows the stripes of My lash! Great is thy vanity and vainglory, but years wilt pass before thou canst regain thy coveted long locks and unblemished form!"
"Master!" Sauron wailed and fell to His knees.
"Thou, Thuringwethil, failed messenger, thou answerest only to thy lusts! How like art thou unto Ungoliant! For thy transgression, thou, too, shall know stripes upon thy fair form. After thou hast been whipped and chastised, thou shalt be banished to the farthest corners of the east, and there shalt thou stay until I call thee again!"
Thuringwethil wept and hung her head in shame.
Long she dwelt in the east, but Melkor never summoned her again. When the earth shook and the Inland Sea of Helcar began to shrink, she at first thought that Melkor at last had been triumphant. Yet there were no heralds who went to all the lands, and she realized that if Melkor had indeed been victorious, there would have been further destruction wrought to the earth. Her heart sank and she wandered in hopelessness and despair.
Many years passed; she did not know how long. The world was different, but yet the Mountains of the East and the Wild Wood remained, though there was no more Inland Sea, and Cuiviénen was gone. There were still elves, though, and dwarves, and men, who, as the years passed, spread throughout all the lands of the East, from the south to the north and unto the Eastern Sea.
She became a creature of legend and myth, prowling the earth on dark nights, seeking to sate her unquenchable lusts for lovers and power and blood. There were many others like her who wandered - demons, werewolves, vampires, lingering spirits of ancient days, and others far younger, the ghosts of lonely elves and men. She met many who pleased her, and she abode with them for a time until she became restless and wandered away in search of new conquests. Many found her fair, but the love bestowed by many proved perilous to them, for if they were mortal or elf, she would slay them and become all the stronger for their blood. The terror of her spread far and wide, and many were the tales that sprang up about her deeds, and the people feared the darkness of night even more than they did already.
Her thoughts often lingered upon Melkor and Sauron. Her face burned in shame when she thought how she had failed Them. How could she help the desires which flamed within her, the irresistible urges which burnt at her heart and body, the demands of her yearnings which threatened to consume her wholly if she did not satisfy them?
At one time, she had tried to temper her lusts, to control them, but to no avail. She had been left aching, empty, unfulfilled, in agony and anguish nigh unto death until she could deny her driving hunger no longer. Power she craved and she obtained greater strength by bodily union with others, and she drank the blood of both her lovers and her enemies. Though she tried to protect those dear to her, her natural instincts now were to destroy and not to love, to steal the light of others and take it unto herself, leaving them withered, cold and lifeless. Had not Sauron been the cause of her lusts, so many long years before in Almaren? Yet she was condemned for the very urges which had become her nature.
Then one morning as she awoke in the arms of yet another one of her lovers, she felt a sudden yearning to journey towards the West. Terror struck her at first, for she feared that it was the summons of the Valar, and her breath seemed to catch in her throat. But yet she sensed that all was well, and so she arose, leaving behind her the far East and several heartbroken swains.
She traveled many leagues until at last she came to Lugbûrz, where once again Sauron took her as one of His many mistresses. Upon arriving, though, she found that He was no longer the impetuous spirit that He had once been. His mind now was more consumed with ruling and order and bringing great changes to Middle-earth. He had also adopted the practice of long periods of sustained abstinence. Oft times now, the nights grew long for Thuringwethil, and He called neither her nor any other to His bed.
The song ended and Thuringwethil looked up at Sauron, her eyes misty like the nights on the haunted isle. Sirion was no more and there was no returning to either Tol-en-Gaurhoth or Angband. Now there was only Barad-dûr and Dol Guldur, and fortresses and secret strongholds in the East.
"Little is left to Me now. Melkor was taken, and the world was changed," Sauron bemoaned. "All that was lost to Me because it had to be! I sacrificed Myself, as did the Great One before Me! If We had not, the Others would have destroyed all of Arda in their madness! I love it too much to let them do that! But the price was great, and I have paid its toll! Look at My body!" He said as He flung aside the covering. "Can you not see how I have suffered?"
"Great is Your pain, Master," she sympathized, her voice soft and her eyes wandering, "and I would bring You sweet solace, if I may."
"Though the form which you have adopted tonight is graceful, it was the one you wore when you were in Tol Sirion, and I cannot bear to see it anymore tonight. Rid yourself of this shape and take that of a woman, comely and seductive, with firm, rounded breasts and buttocks that thrill to My touch, the form that you wore on Almaren. Let Me think of days when hope ruled the world."
She looked up at Him in the darkness and marveled as He bowed His head. There were tears in her eyes as her body took on a silvery radiance. Slowly she transformed before Him and gone were the wings of the bat, the cloak of night, the pert fangs in her mouth, and all the trappings of her bat shape. She appeared to Him as she had been in Almaren, a creature of beauty, a maiden of the wind.
He smiled when He beheld her in her transformed light. The glow of the jeweled walls began to transfuse, and the gold began to blend with the silver. Her hungry eyes looked from His dark maned crown down His powerful chest, lingering a moment upon His corded thighs and His slumbering spear which nested in its thick patch of black fur, before her gaze trailed down over His sinewy legs to His feet.
When Sauron spoke again, His voice was tender, almost wistful. "I will hear of the silent whispers of the night wind as she sighs in darkened wood and cold mead. I would be held enthralled if you could, if only for one drop of time, one minute reckoning of the heartbeat of Arda, show Me a vision of when we first joined, our bodies becoming one. Let My heart rejoice in the memories that only you and I share, My Own, My sweet Thuringwethil, My sighing lover of nights long past. Let Me seduce you once again, My sweet nymph of wind-swept passion. Let Me feel once again the swelling urgency of the time when I first spread My body over you, covering you, and laid bare your purity, forming you into a thing of My own desires!"
The version of the Lúthien and Beren story found in this chapter is based solely upon The Silmarillion and does not incorporate elements found in The History of Middle-earth series. The geography is based upon The Atlas of Middle-earth by Karen Wynn Fonstad.
The concept of energy, strength and power being transferred (either willingly or not) by the act of union is indeed canonical. In "Myths Transformed" in Volume X of the History of Middle-earth series, some of the central elements of the mythology are reconsidered by J. R. R. Tolkien. There is the tale of Melkor and the Maiden of the Sun, Árië. He desired her light and came to her, telling her that he would espouse her and they would rule Arda together. She rejected and rebuked him, and in anger, he raped her.
"Melkor did not heed her warning, but cried in his wrath: 'The gift which is withheld I take!' and he ravished Árië, desiring both to abase her and to take unto himself her powers. Then the spirit of Árië went up like a flame of anguish and wrath, and departed forever from Arda; and the Sun was bereft of the Light of Varda, and was stained by the assault of Melkor." -"Myths Transformed," Morgoth's Ring, p. 381