Author's Note: Do you think the dark lords also deserve some love? Have you been searching for fanfiction with Melkor and Sauron? In this story of the two greatest villains of Arda, we will lead you through the main Melkor-relevant events of Silmarillion, beginning with Morgoth's triumphant return to Angband with the Silmarils, through the consequences of the taxing battle with Fingolfin and the troublesome Quest for the Silmaril, finally taking you all the way to Dagor Dagorath... and beyond.
During the course of this story you will see Melkor risen high and fallen deep and you will learn a thing or two about the loyalty of the Maiar. There will be moments sad and serious and those quite funny as well.
Please review and tell us what you think! Give us motivation to continue :3
Warnings: None in this chapter, but slash in the next ones (see description to learn where you will be able to read the rest of this fic)
Dislaimer: All the amazing characters in this fic and Silmarillion (c) Master J.R.R. Tolkien
* * *
The Return of Melkor
The earth trembled and the mighty walls of Angband quaked together with it, as echoes of a shrill and shattering cry shook the steppes and mountains of Beleriand. Yellow eyes rimmed with fire opened wide, as Sauron felt clearly the power of the voice. The overpowering force behind its summon caused the Maia to freeze in his tracks and for once forget about all of his duties.
The answer to the cry came almost at once and standing in the hallway many floors above, Sauron sensed the dormant fire waking beneath his feet, far down below in the deepest vaults of Angband. Balrogs, the spirits of fire that dwelled there, responded to the call with a roar of raging flames and in the likeness of a firestorm they arose, rushing up the flights of stairs and filling the corridors with their blinding, scorching presence. Like that they ascended the many levels of Angband, seeking their way outside, united by one single purpose - to help their master in need.
For there was indeed no doubt that the voice that shook the nearby mountains and cast fear into even the blackest of hearts could belong to none else but to the Dark Lord himself. Three long centuries had passed since last Sauron had heard it, yet he could never forget the timbre of his master's voice. The voice of Melkor.
When a while passed after the fiery passing of the Balrogs and the air in the corridor where the Maia stood, was no longer too hot to breathe in, Sauron, once the master craftsman of the household of Aulė and for the last three centuries the dark lord in Melkor's stead, walked slowly across the hallway, towards a narrow window that overlooked the lands of the North. From there he followed with his eyes to where the flaming flurry that poured out of Angband was headed. Westwards, he discerned. That was then from where Melkor was approaching.
Melkor, the darkest Vala, was finally free from his captivity in the Halls of Mandos. And whatever the cause for his call now was, be it the expression of tenebrous joy of his return or the sign of the approach of an enemy, Sauron rested assured that the horde of Balrogs would handle it with ease.
And yet despite suspecting that any further help was needless, the Maia never tore his eyes from the dark horizon. Three ages passed since the real lord of Angband had been captured and dragged in chains to Valinor by his brethren. Three overlong centuries since the once fearsome stronghold of Utumno had fallen to ruin, conquered and forever lost to the Valar. Three centuries since Sauron, the traitor of light and Melkor's most faithful lieutenant, had hidden within the shadows and thus was left behind to save what could have still been salvaged from his master's empire.
Of course it was no easy feat. Soon after the fall of the first fortress of Melkor, the Valar had come to Angband as well, seeking to put an end to the darkness that dwelled within it and subdue it like they had done with Utumno before. Yet blinded by their triumph after the chaining of Melkor, whom they had seized and hurled down from his black throne in the depths of Utumno, the mighty and luminous Ainur had dropped their guard. And thus they failed to find the evil that still lurked and nested beyond the hidden passages in the nethermost halls of the second stronghold. That was where Sauron, the commander of Angband, hid from the pursuit as well and thanks to the oversight of the Valar, evaded capture.
Long years had the Maia spent in hiding, waiting for the news of his master's fate. Yet although no news had come, the lieutenant of Melkor did not remain idle. He could not remain thus - for since the very beginning of Ea it was not idling but constant and thorough work that was in his nature. Once Mairon, the Admirable, the craftsman of Aulė and now Sauron, the Abominable, Melkor's most loyal servant, despite his master's absence he had once again immersed himself in his dark duties and set out to work, imposing onto himself many duties. In secrecy, decade after decade, he slowly had Angband restored, armories filled to brims with weapons, war machines built and more Orcs bred and trained in the art of war.
And yet unlike his lord and master, who in the furious haste of his malice would ere oft forget about all caution, Sauron, having assumed the position of power, proved to be a poised and clever strategist. Knowing that the odds were still against them and that they would be so for a long time to come, instead of acting rash, the Maia chose to lay in hiding and in wait. If not for Melkor, then at least for the right time to strike.
And so despite never ceasing to work, Sauron made sure that all was done quietly and that no word of the happenings in Angband would reach the curious ears. The fires of Angband although rekindled, were small and no dark smoke rose from the northern lands to make the night even blacker all around, like it had in the times before the chaining of Melkor. The same way, while inside the fortress darkness still teemed, evil dwelled and weapons were forged for the future battles, on the outside - to the eye of a beholder - Angband still seemed but a wraith of the mighty stronghold that it once was, conquered and forever fallen to ruin.
In such a way for three centuries the lieutenant of Melkor had managed to fool the enemy and keep the eyes of the Valar away from Beleriand. And now a faint smile ghosted on the lips of Sauron as the Maia gazed beyond the horizon where the cloud of fire disappeared. All this time he had been preparing for this day. Preparing everything for the return of his master. Now after long years at last Melkor was back and Sauron longed to hear the words his master would speak when he found that not all of his legacy was lost.
* * *
Even as the echoes of his mighty cry were still ringing in the far corners of the Northern regions, Melkor arose from among the ashes of Ungoliant's webs that now no longer bound him, smitten away to nothingness by the fiery whips of his loyal Balrogs.
Behind his dark helmet Melkor grimaced and gazing into the black distance where the spider had fled, he placed the crystal casket into his left hand, no longer trusting the right one that still smoldered where the light of the Silmarils had seared it even through the crystal case. The grip of the webs had left him in great pain as well and thus, trusting the spirits of fire that had come to his aid to remain faithful for a moment longer, Melkor attempted to take on a different shape. He willed himself to discard the pained physical form, and to his greatest dismay discovered that he could not. The Destruction of the Trees that had so empowered Ungoliant, had taken its toll on the Vala, draining what was left of his own power that he had not yet dispersed over Arda.
Yet Melkor let the Balrogs know nothing of this affliction and neither did he allow them to guess the weakness of the physical form in which he was now trapped. Instead in the palm of his left hand that burnt and darkened too already as had his other hand before, he weighed the Silmarils and the awareness of their possession returned to him his lost vigor. And so before his servants could question the nature of his abeyance, the Vala rose to his full height and concealing his pain, he marched onwards to the ruins of his lesser fortress.
Utumno was lost and far beyond his reach, and thus Angband was now to be his stronghold against the Valar. The Valar and the Eldar alike, should the latter ever in their folly come to wage war upon him to take back the jewels that he had claimed as his.
As he walked, the casket of crystal in his hands blazed with the light of the Trees of Valinor and Melkor felt heat greater even than that in the bowels of the earth envelop his bloodied hands with its flame. A pure and scorching flame, that turned them forever black.
* * *
As he neared the entrance of the outwardly ruined fortress, Melkor was alone once more. His faithful spirits of fire he had sent forth to search for other allies and pass the news of his return throughout the land.
His enemies that had lost him in the Darkness of Ungoliant would know where to look for him, once they decided to pursue him again. So Melkor needed to gather his forces as fast as possible. There was much work to be done. As he walked through the rubble, between the dark broken columns of the outer yard, Melkor pondered on all the restoration and rebuilding that awaited him and his thralls in the years to come.
Yet as he stepped through the threshold beyond the first ruined chamber he was surprised to learn that the second room lay not in ruin but was already repaired and reinforced. Momentarily forgetting about the Silmarils, the Dark Foe of the World studied his surroundings, venturing deeper and deeper into Angband, where all the hallways and all the chambers were almost exactly as he had remembered.
Had the Valar then failed to destroy Angband? Had they merely swept over its perimeter and the chambers above ground? Melkor did not exclude that possibility, for as far as he could tell his brethren were never particularly effective.
In wonder, the dark Ainu walked through torchlit the corridors, yet he met no one on his way. Finally he reached the throne room and it looked just as it used to. Melkor crossed the vast empty hall and sat on his seemingly untouched dark throne, gazing about himself, wondering how much had changed in the ages he had spent in Mandos. Angband seemed to have remained exactly as he had remembered it in times before his fall.
That made the Vala wonder if the world outside had also stayed the same. He could not tell, for in his march against the Two Trees he was too absorbed by his purpose to pay much heed to his surroundings. The Dark Foe of the World had little appreciation for scenery, unless it blazed with fire and spit ash and magma high into the air and deep into the land. Reclining in his dark throne, Melkor pondered on the changes in the world now, and he strove to recollect his hasty flight from the Valar, every now and then turning his fiery eyes to the new treasure above all other treasure that he had brought back with him.
Yet not for long was the Vala meant to sit alone in the empty hall lit by the light of torches. Their flames wavered as the heavy iron door opened and a figure clad in dark armor appeared. Sauron, well aware of the arrival of Melkor and even of the corridors which the dark Vala chose to pass through on his way, had lingered in the shadows without revealing his presence before. Now however, as at last Melkor took his place of power, Sauron walked in and directed his steps towards the throne upon which sat the dark Ainu. And then, coming to a halt before the dais, the Maia fell to one knee and bowed his head before Melkor in a silent tribute and welcome back.
Melkor's eyes stopped on the kneeling figure of his lieutenant, "Greetings, Sauron, servant mine." A small pause was made then, before in a voice full of power and command Melkor added, "Thou mayst rise and serve me again. As thou hast always done before now." Those were the words spoken by Morgoth, the Dark Foe of the World, as Feanor had cursed him. Yet that name had not yet left Valinor and to himself and to his servants the Dark Vala was - and would for the days to come be - known by one name only.
Thus commanded, Sauron rose and straightened to his full height, gazing at his master as he spoke. "Long time thou wast away, my lord, longer than I have expected. Yet be certain my liege that I have awaited this day with impatience, as have all thy other allies and with all my being I rejoice to see thee upon this throne once more. Doubt not that thy loyal servant I have remained at all times and although oft low the evil had to lay and in the deepest shadows to hide from the wrath of the Ainur, I have done all that could be done so that upon thy arrival thou findest not cold and empty ruins but merely semblance of such a ruin, meant to fool the enemy eye. The pits of Angband teem with Orcs and other servants of thy darkness and on all lips now is the name of Melkor and every and each awaits thy commands. Thus speak, my lord, and thy will be done." In those words spoke Sauron long and proudly, yet as he did, he could not resist to lift his eyes and gaze in wonder at the blazing light of the Silmarils that shone from his master's blackened hands - light so strange and bright that it nearly distracted him from his words of welcome.
Melkor harkened and was pleased. Praise of Sauron's service was on his lips, yet as he was about to voice his approval, he noted, dismayed, that the eyes of his servant came to rest on the Silmarils and in his avaricious malice Melkor forgot about his Sauron's loyal deeds and the praise that he meant to speak. Instead the Dark Foe of the World clutched onto the casket with his burnt, blackened fingers, snarling, "The Silmarils are mine forever, Sauron!" thus he roared in fury, that was fueled by the constant pain in his burning hands. "Thou shalt not have them, nor anyone else!" he continued, but even as he did, the look on Sauron's face and his immobility soothed the wrath of Melkor and slowly the anger became replaced by weariness of many years and long way back.
Sauron remained silent and gazed no more towards the precious gems. At last, feeling no threat to himself or the jewels he had stolen, the Dark Foe of the World spoke again, calmly "Thou hast my thanks for thy service. We shall begin the full restoration of Angband immediately. Go now and call forth my other servants and set them to raise once more the dark walls and towers. Thou hast proven thyself able. I shall join thee later," Melkor announced,great fatigue overwhelming him and showing in his features and tone despite his will. Yet he looked at the casket with the Silmarils and once more envisioned a crown to fit the gems. "But now I shall retire to the deepest smithy." It was no time now to lay to rest.
And Sauron bowed his head again, asking nothing, albeit many were his questions and even more of them formed in his mind now that he had heard his master's wrathful tone and seen the angry fire blazing in his eyes. And although Melkor looked weary and worn out by the return from Valinor, Sauron dared not propose retiring to sleep rather than to the smithy. And so the lieutenant of Melkor simply acknowledged the words of his master and soon he left the torchlit hall, leaving the Dark Lord to his own designs.
And yet as the Vala descended into his smithy to work on the finest of crowns, he found food and drink and ointments brought to him to soothe the pain of the fresh burns. And as he found his way to his chambers late at night, he found his rooms made ready for his arrival and welcoming.
* * *
Melkor was pleased to discover his lesser fortress had not fallen into decay during his imprisonment in Mandos. Yet his return also brought new troubles with it. The triumphant rape of the Silmarils and the final destruction of the Two Trees came at the price of his power to shift shape. Melkor doubted that power would ever return, for it appeared to him that ever since his coming onto Arda his might had begun to disperse. He saw no way to mend this. Thus now, bound to a shape of flesh, a shape that could and did feel pain, Melkor did not intend to put it to harm without absolute need.
And thus when he had crafted his crown of iron and set the Silmarils in it - even as his already black fingers burnt at their touch - Melkor did not linger outside of his quarters for long. With the crown of iron on his head he retired from the smithy. Before he rested, however, he tended to his injuries with the means provided and had one of his goblins find out and report to him who had brought him the ointments.
The discovery that his lieutenant had apparently guessed his weakness troubled Melkor. Sauron had been left in charge of Angband for an age too many. He had kept the stronghold well in order, but would he truly surrender it to his master now, when Melkor was weakened, weary and possessed the jewels that everyone on Arda desired? Sauron's assurances of loyalty had been many, yet the corrupt Vala, himself treacherous and full of deceit, found it only the more troubling and suspicious. Despite the weariness of his body, Melkor could not sleep, not with the fear of treason playing at the edges of his dark malevolent mind. And thus the Vala lay in his chambers alert and awake, letting his body relax, while his mind labored on plans of evil and deceit. Already he had sown the seed of discord among the Noldor, and that though pleased him, yet there was far more work to be done if all of Arda were to be his at last.
* * *
Sauron was awaiting his master in the hallway, clad in his dark, polished armor that shone all the more now as Melkor neared and light of the Silmarils fell on it his splendid crown. With the slightest squint of his eyes and purposing not to gaze at the jewels this time, Sauron greeted his lord and he led him away from there and through the winding corridors.
As side by side they walked, he began briefing the Vala on the events of last three centuries, reporting achievements and progress in plans that Melkor had left behind, when he was captured and which in his absence the Maia strived to continue. And there was in fact a lot of progress to report.
Despite the need to keep a low profile, during Melkor's absence, the evil did not idle the ages away. Sauron had dutifully seen to it that creatures of Beleriand had not forgotten the name of the One Who Arises in Might. The truth of that however, Melkor resolved to himself determine.
The Maia meanwhile led his master on and on through the hallways, relating the happenings recent and past and presenting the accomplished works that he had directed according to the Vala's or to his own design. There was new war machinery, ready and waiting, being tested or still under construction. The Orcs were many and well trained and they all fell to their knees before Melkor and cowered before him in the pale light of the Silmarils, which pleased him.
Aside from the fact that they could still grovel well, however, the important fact was now that under Sauron's supervision the army became more organized than Melkor remembered it being. The Orcs had been divided into divisions and each of the divisions was assigned to a Balrog commander, directly responsible for direct supervision and training of the troop. All of the Balrogs, meanwhile, reported to Gothmog, their captain and Gothmog - Sauron again assured - remained unyieldingly loyal to Melkor, just like other spirits of fire.
Melkor walked beside his servant, lighting the corridors and halls of Angband with his three stolen jewels. From time to time he nodded or let out sounds of approval or interest half of which were badly suppressed yawns. The constraints of the flesh were unbearable and Melkor found himself paying more attention to the ache in his black hands and the heaviness of his eyelids than some of the useful information and good news that Sauron was pouring into him. If the Maia proved not to be a traitor, Melkor concluded, the things Sauron had achieved would certainly be of great use. In fact, despite the awfully weary state he was in, Melkor was impressed. Truly impressed now that he had learnt that Angband had indeed been raided thoroughly by the Valar and since then had been rebuilt under Sauron's command. What he had taken for the incompetence of the Valar was in reality ages of hard work on behalf of his minions.
Sauron had just finished showing his master the newly rebuilt furnaces that would be simply perfect for creation of terrible black smoke to make it even more pitch black outside, whenever Melkor's black heart desired, when turning around towards his master he caught the tired look on the Vala's face. He did not let Melkor know that he had seen it, yet rather than taking his master to several more halls where construction was underway, as he had earlier planned, he resolved to shorten the tour to its final attraction.
"I have one more presentation in mind now that may interest thee, my lord." He said and with those words he led his master down the torchlit stairs even deeper into the bellows of Angband to where in the pits many strange creatures were nesting.
"Aye," Melkor responded tiredly, but followed him keenly. He anticipated to see some survivor of the Valar's assault on Angband, for here not all the pits had been raided. His deadly, monstrous pets that had bred and dwelt in the bowels of Utumno had all perished, Melkor knew well, for he had been dragged over their corpses in chains. The memory angered him, but he did not dwell on it now, instead looking forward to another surprise of Sauron's, for those had been numerous.
As they descended the flight of stairs carved in stone and solid magma, the Maia caught the hold of one of the Orcs that dwelled in those parts and snarling an order at him in fluent orc speech sent him running off into the darkness beyond the flame of a single torch that burnt here. The creature ran away on its errand at once, glad to escape the two fearsome Ainur and the unwelcome blinding light of the SIlmarils and Sauron led Melkor further, to where the dark would beyond doubt be complete was it not for the Vala's fiery hair and his jeweled crown.
At last they came to a halt in front of a dark entrance to a cave. Yet before any of them could speak a word or strive to summon whatever mysterious creature dwelt there, the Orc returned with a bucket filled with chunks of raw meat, and for a while seemed on verge of despair as he looked between the Vala and the Maia, not knowing who he should give the bucket to, the strange and mighty dark lord who had returned or to Sauron whom he knew well and to whom he had been giving it for few decades now. The Orc was not stupid and knew who the great master and who the lesser great master there was but the Orc was not quite sure what would anger Melkor more, not being given a bucket of meat or being given a bucket of meat. Quickly however the minion resolved his own dilemma by falling face-first on the ground and groveling before Melkor, while the bucket left aside, was with a sigh picked by Sauron in the end.
On any other day the Orc's hesitation would have been very well-founded, but feeling as he did then, Melkor could not care less for buckets of meat, whomever they were presented to. He dismissed the Orc with a wave of a hand and a half-hearted snarl and stood beside Sauron, peering into the darkness beyond the light of his Silmarils from which some carnivorous creature was to emerge.
Sauron turned back to his lord and the dark cave, "I trust thou still rememberest Draugluin, my liege," He said as side by side they peered into the darkness where a pair of shining eyes opened when the name had been spoken.
Melkor's surprise knew no bounds. And boundless as it was it woke him and lifted his spirits. "How could I not remember," he said and then his eyes locked with those of the beast lurking in the dark. Last time he had seen those canine eyes they were much closer to the floor and smaller too. Melkor felt refreshed and vigorous at that sight. "Draugluin, come hither," he commanded softly, patting the plate armor piece on his thigh.
And at the command, Draugluin, the very first werewolf on Arda came thither indeed and it was not a pup anymore but a big and splendid wolf, with lean flanks, fur black and blue as was the night and cunning yellow eyes of a predator. But those eyes, although they gazed at Melkor with curiosity, turned away from its maker - for it was after all Melkor himself that three centuries ago had put a vile spirit into the little wolf thus giving form to Draugluin - and the silent paws carried the beast towards Sauron rather, for he was the one with the bucket of meat and he was the one that came to the cave each week for the centuries that passed.
The Maia however held the container outstretched towards Melkor and looked sternly at the beast, silently forbidding it to come nearer and seeking to justify the displeasing demeanor of the wolf, that almost mistook its masters, "Feed it, my liege, make it remember thee. Draugluin was but a pup when thou hadst... " Sauron sought for appropriate words to phrase it,"... departed. And I were the one to feed him."
Melkor held Sauron's eyes for a brief moment and then took out of the bucket a big chunk of raw meat and regarded it with displeasure, "That is not the flesh of the Eldar," Melkor noted, disregarding the touchy subject of his departure. He seemed for the moment to be more concerned with Draugluin's diet than other matters.
"Nay, it is indeed not," Sauron confirmed with a sigh, as the wolf took the meat from the hand of the true lord of Angband, "I beg thy forgiveness my liege but if in the time of thy absence I was to renew the hunting of Elves, I would have assured the eyes of Valar turning this way again and so I have decided against it, for without thee among us we would not withhold another attack. Yet now thou art here and all will change and thus hopefully Draugluin's diet shall be enriched again." Orcs of course, used to once be Eldar too and they were aplenty in Angband, yet giving their spoilt meat to a mighty and noble beast like Draugluin would be plainly disrespectful and most likely unwholesome as well. Thus the wolf was fed with flesh of other animals for the time being.
Melkor nodded and then reached out towards the wolf, offering the bloody treat. But suddenly his new permanent physical form came to his mind and Melkor realized just what a mighty beast Draugluin had grown into and how sharp his teeth were. The hesitation lasted merely a moment though and overcoming his cowardice, the Dark Lord's black hand crossed the distance and let the long teeth take the meat. As Draugluin ate, the Vala petted the werewolf. He had made this beast, it simply could not rebel against him. And it did not. So Melkor scratched the beast's head and neck and its ears. "How thou hast grown," Melkor mused out loud, giving Draugluin another piece of meat, once the beast had devoured the first one.
Standing behind them, Sauron watched the werewolf and his master with content, "He had and he still shall grow bigger and stronger now that thou art near." And it was so indeed, for even if the wolf did not remember Melkor well, the spirit clad in Draugluin's flesh longed for its master's return and now in the Vala's presence it was going to become mightier and healthier than it had ever been and as it would grow in power so would the wolf grow. Though adding some Elves to Draugluin's diet will also surely help.
Melkor beheld the beast awhile and then turned to Sauron. "We should begin the breeding of werewolves. The Eldar had multiplied nicely and many of them shall come our way seeking the Silmarils and vengeance for the king I've slain. Then Draugluin shall be the sire of werewolves and his kind shall feast on their remains," Melkor announced and stood straight. "Thou hast pleased me greatly, Sauron. Thy deeds are many and thy achievements are great. Let us now tend to the restoration of Angband."
"Aye, my liege." The Maia agreed and soon they left the dark pits and climbed the winding stair again and behind them like a great faithful shadow Draugluin walked step after step.
And yet as some time later after all that was to be seen was seen and all that was to be told was told, they came to a halt in one of the hallways and Sauron bowed his head walking away, with him too went the wolf and Sauron froze in his step, dismayed and troubled.
And Melkor stopped as well. He watched the werewolf and the Maia for a long moment. Sauron had ruled Angband in his stead. He had upheld and rebuilt it in his absence. He had fed and trained Draugluin and had apparently won the werewolf's loyalty. In dismay Melkor once again wondered if Sauron's own loyalties still stood true. With every moment he doubted that more and more. But as of yet he did not speak his mind on the matter. Melkor simply turned and left to try once more to get some sleep and then turn to the scheming.
But the wolf, coaxed by Sauron's hand that bid it follow Melkor and not him, trotted softly behind behind the Vala and brushed its inky flank against his side.
Sauron looked at two figures, one of the mighty Vala and one of a splendid wolf as they waned into the shadows at the end of the hallway. He had not failed to mark the suspicion in Melkor's eyes, and he knew that Melkor would not let it rest. And so Sauron turned around and walked away well aware that soon he would be called before Melkor again and this time it would not be to hear his master's words of praise.
Questioning was imminent.
* * *
"Hast thou sat on my throne?" Melkor demanded of Sauron, as the Dark Vala now occupied the seat on the high dais, from which he glared down at his subject. He knew the answer well, but he needed to hear it pronounced by Sauron himself. He wanted the man to admit that he had taken that liberty and then see Sauron humble himself with apologies.
Melkor felt threatened by the authority of Sauron that had grown immensely through the ages of his absence. None would speak it out loud and all were most respectful to the Vala, bowing, groveling and prostrating themselves before him wherever he went but Melkor felt that all the lesser creatures of Angband did not truly know him, or see him as the true lord of the stronghold. And many of the more ancient beings - those that knew him well, having long been his servants before his Chaining - treated him as a ghost from the past, as if his return had not yet made it through into their ages old minds.
Thus Melkor needed to re-establish his rule, and he chose to start with his lieutenant.
Sauron however did not fall to his knees and grovel in front of the Vala like all the others. No, rather than doing that, he stood straight and looking at his master upon the throne, he nodded, pleading guilty as if it was no major crime at all, "I had, my lord." He answered simply and with great calm, and forestalling Melkor's violent outburst was there to be one, added,"Yet I had done it for a reason and not for glory."
"Name it then. Speak thy mind," Melkor encouraged irritably. The fact that the Maia stood proudly before him instead of kneeling and submitting troubled Melkor. Once it was Sauron's usual manner and were Melkor to consider this affair soundly, he would have seen that there was no reason for doubt in his faithful lieutenant. Yet Melkor was too fast and passionate to consider this matter patiently.
Still, Sauron hoped he would, at least once the reasons were known to him. Were he an Orc, he would have never allowed himself such impudence as claiming to have had reasons for usurping power this way. Yet he was no Orc. He was Melkor's most prized servant and asset and he took his chances, speaking, "Three ages past thou left suddenly, my liege and although I have awaited long for a message from thee, none came. Angband lay in ruin and those of thy servants who survived were scattered and doubtful and lost. It did not suffice merely to call and once more take them to the task. They needed authority, needed fear to bind them into the service to darkness once more. Thou, their lord that held them in his grasp, wert gone and so I stepped forth and in thy absence I ruled them from the black throne in thy stead. Yet I always meant to step down and bow to thee the day you returned and with gladness, I have now done that. Thus before thou wreakst thy wrath upon thy loyal servant, remember, my lord that it wert thou who in the ages past made me the commander of Angband." After those words he fell silent, thankful to Melkor that he let him say this much without lashing out in the middle like he would sometimes.
Annoyance played in Melkor's features like a flame of a candle swayed by a draft, dying out and burning brighter in turns. Sauron's actions and his words made perfect sense. Melkor's anger about the matter was irrational, but he did not want to step down. Malice clawed at his mind, telling him to smash his insolent servant with Grond, show the others what would happen should anyone try to take power from him for any reason, be it valid or void. But common sense told him Sauron had acted wisely, that he was useful and had so far shown no intent of treachery, no matter how much Melkor brooded expecting it.
In the end, the Dark Vala came to a compromise between his desire to humble Sauron and his reluctance to do the other Ainu harm. "Thy words sound true. Yet in thy actions thou hast risen higher than I had intended for thee. For that thou shalt be humbled. A lowly task shall be given to thee and thou shalt fulfill it," Melkor triumphed as he thought he had found a good way to put his servant in his place. As he spoke, Melkor rubbed his black palms together, the never ending pain in them feeding his malevolence. "Thou shalt come to my quarters when I summon thee, then thou shalt bow before me and do as I say."
And Sauron regarded him as he spoke and when the last of Melkor's words rang loud and clear in the hall, the Maia nodded his head, "If that is thy command my lord, so it shall come to pass."