He heard the beat of wings above him. The demon following him, screaming filth. He ignored it. They had taken the last grain of hope, and then they had taken him. He had not feared them then and did not now.
Dost thou truly think there is anything more thou canst do to me? his mind screamed as the cavern widened around him, a red-stained throat.
There was another raucous shriek above him and then a sound like a collision.
His awareness was a small thing now. He watched what remained of him plunging into the lake of fire and pitch. So very little of him left.
It did not matter. They had taken everything.
Two shapes tumbled past him. The demon was sliced in twain, it's face was upturned to his for a moment, fangs bared in in grimace, before it was lost against the upwelling crimson glare. A crack sounded like a sail seizing the north wind and wings spread before him, immense and beautiful.
What part of his mind was imagining this? The figure was dressed only in breeches that came to mid-calf, and a sword-belt, set with moonstones was around his waist. His hair was in a thousand tiny braids, pouring to his thighs like heavy silver chains. Silver vambraces clasped his wrist and wide bands circled his ankles. In his hands he bore twin swords the color of winter moonlight.
Vanimórë would have wept if he could, at this last blessing. Whether the vision was spun from his madness or no, it was grace in all its manifestations.
Can I rest now? he asked it.
The vision raised its swords, crossing them above its head like a warning against intrusion. Feathers enfolded him, strong and supple as a warrior's hands. There was nothing for them to embrace and yet they held him, arresting his plunge, and a lovely mouth kissed the remnant of him that remained.
No, beloved. Not yet.
The gentleness of rain lay within Elgalad’s soft gaze, speaking of quiet springs in the depth of forested glades; soothed the weariness of the heart. It flowed, shaping itself within the confines of that which held it, surrounding the flame that was Vanimórë at its center, an island. Yet also was there a forging; quenching and renewal, the memory of a music that was the One’s own voice, the power of the sea that had washed away Morgoth’s taint from his beloved’s soul with the same fury as the waves that had swallowed Númenor.
And for a single, fleeting moment, there came such Sight as had lain always on the edge of Vanimórë’s consciousness; an image that had brushed his mind when first he held Elgalad in his arms as a babe in a time lost to ages. As quickly, the impression was gone, but not before revealing what he had seen in a mountaintop vision as he walked between the worlds.
Through a glass, darkly. But once, for an eternal moment, he had seen face to face. Past and present and what was yet to come met, merged. A dream within a dream, it had been a shield against which the combined evil of Morgoth and Sauron raged in vain; shattered. A shield against the pain of his loss when it threatened to engulf him. He had endured.
“Mine desire doth find answer in thine alone. Thou art mine!”
Silver and light and love and the shadow of wings; a power so far beyond Vanimórë that it made his own, as great and terrible as he existed within this earthbound plane pale to insignificance. A purity that made him want to prostrate himself at his beloved’s feet in supplication, to yearn for a single touch, a touch that would last a lifetime and burn away all the hate and shame and despair he had ever known. Elgalad flowed into Vanimórë’s embrace, their lips meeting, clinging with burning need. A breath later, the drum rose to crescendo and the circle was empty; save for quivering blades throwing reflections of the fire into the space where the dancers had been, points driven into the earth.