The Second Symphony - The Lore of the Free Peoples Concerning the Dagor Dagorath

"The Darkness between Time and Light" (Prologue)

His mind gnawed away at him, consuming the last bits of His sanity. He thought of only one thing since He came here. Control. They had locked Him away, like some piece of trash, and His mind was all that he had left in His nice, cozy, private Hell. It wasn't the dark that bothered Him, oh no, had He had His way, all the lands would be as such. Even the cursed, contemptuous, lofty realm of his captors, how He loathed it! Hate for them, and the will to control their own. Control, Longing for it was all He could think about in that void. Things like this would not happen if He were in control, unlike those bastard powers... But they were not in control, were they? He thought to himself. Noooo... They were not in control then nor now... He might have chained Me, but He could never, and will never control them, even as they slay him and sully his throne... Those little maggots, children! Children no more! They should all be controlled; they are a hazard... Controlled! I shall rule them, bind them in my grasp... Very soon now, yes... It went on as such for thousands of years, blasphemous oaths and slander, and little more of the matter needs to be said here.

Despite His apparent dementia, it would be somewhat of a lie to say that he was truly alone. There were the ghosts, only slightly more erratic and formless than He, and far less powerful. As one can expect, they weren't much for conversation, even if that was the sort of thing that he enjoyed. It maddened Him, to be in that infinite, timeless company with scores of those he could not control, at least, yet. Yes the time will come when these pitiful fools rise the occasion, but not yet. Not as long as that presumptuous fool keeps vigilance. Noooo... They merely blackened Him more, driving him farther into Himself, Evil. He might seduce them to his cause, but it was not a sure thing, and that infuriated him. To each is own in the Void, that Endless Prison at the Edge of Time...

There was also the Gatekeeper, the Doom Guard of Mandos and Warden of the Void. He too was doomed, forever to guard the Void, indicted for ancient crimes far lesser than those of who he secured. But doomed nonetheless, and sentenced to a life of hapless watchfulness. The Gatekeeper was allowed to look into Time, but enter the realm of Ea he could not, and would not, until the End of Days, where he would once again walk among those of Time. He lived on the brink of sanity, but far more merry than the howling ghosts and the Great Enemy within.

And so it came that in the morning year of the Seventh Age, a messenger from the Elder King met the Gatekeeper just shy of the Edge of Time and existence, above the stars, above the very stuff of stars themselves... Between Dark, Being, and Unsullied Light "Aye, and what brings you to my humble abode, fair herald?" The Messenger could see the cynical Despair in the eyes of the Gatekeeper, and he pitied him, he only so often visited the Edge, and the mere actuality Gatekeeper's Fate haunted his spirited thoughts. "For I am the master, warden and guard of this realm between Time and Beyond. Welcome to the Void. Whom might I fetch for the Skylord today?" The Messenger ebbed at the Gatekeeper's tone, perhaps the Skylord might relieve him soon, but no, such non-antiquity is not the custom of the Elder-King, Lord of the West. He drew a breath and began his message that would cross the borders of Time...

"...Things are diminishing and Ea is marred in ways beyond our foulest comprehension. The Followers, The Sickly have swarmed Arda in numbers yonder of the jewels of the Star Lady herself. The other free peoples are in Rustic Antiquity as their numbers are dwindling to few beyond repair. The Races of Men make war upon their Kindred, and the very Earth they stand on. They have also developed terrible weapons that use the power of fallen stars, and fleets beyond the greatest hosts of Númenor. Things are bleak, Warden Doom-Guard, and I come to you with the most grievous tidings. The Skylord fears an attack of the Undying Lands..."

The Herald had dealt many terrible tidings in his days, but this was one he feared to utter. For the Gatekeeper was a grim, weary Lord of Ghosts. He had no joy other than the visions Lorien the Dream Master sent him, and the window into Time he had, and of course, the more often than not horrible news that the Herald of Manwe Sulimo the Skylord gave to him, then such as now. And now he stood before the Lord of the Void, a Guard of many unspeakable, Dark things. So much relied on the Gatekeeper, he who sits alone, with no company but the Tainted Ghosts of Fell Spirits. And, a fact that many ignored, The Great Enemy, The Dark Lord Morgoth himself bid his time here. That was the chief danger, and yet the Skylord did not relieve this poor, weary Doom Guard, a petty criminal long repented. His despair could be our undoing Manwe, thought the Herald, release this Spirit, or are you so fearful of the people of Ea Arda that you've forgotten our fallen brethren?

The Herald had been silent, and the Doom Guard was not impatient, no, in the Void you learned patience before breath. He was mearly curious about the World of Time. "Well, why does The Skylord upon Tanequietil inform me as such? Long have I known that the Countries of Men were Dangerous even to Aman itself, and of the forgetfulness of Humanity, they who destroy such a fair prize as Arda. Further still, I have even long ago warned Irmo Lorien of such, in my talks with him. But since you come to me now in my unlighted realm, you may tell your master as such when you return to fair Mount Everwhite, if in fact, you return ere the new fortifications and battlements on her silver slopes block all entry..."

"I am very aware of the grim situation Warden... But I personally do not think it will quite come to that as of yet." "No? I say to thee Messenger of the Skylord: I am prisoned, but not totally blind. I still have a Maiar's intuition. Do you not know of The Rockets of Watery Fire that fly far above Tanequietil itself? Nay, even Mount Everwhite will be no refuge when they come... It is a wonder that the heedless Humans have not already seen through the misty shroud that covers your undying lands..."

The Herald of Manwe sat long in thought at the Edge of Time. At last he took leave of the matter. There was little more to be accomplished or learned. So out of pity for the Doom Guard he talked and informed him of much that had happened in the Fair Valinorean Capital Cities of Valmar, Tirion, and Alaquonde: The comings and doings of the Ainur and Elves that lived there. Yet it was so that the Folk of the Quendi lived little place else. It was true that there was a small population of Elves that still tarried in Earth, mostly in the ancestral northwestern regions. Their numbers dwindled to less than one hundred, and very few of them were anything but Half-Elves, belonging to wealthy aristocratic European families, doing as best as they could to keep the ancient bloodlines, though some of them had even forgotten their own species. Yet as Humanity grew in power and declining honor, it was thought that they would most likely fade out, as most of they good things in the world tend to do.

The Herald finished his tales of the World of Time, and the Warden absorbed it, but he had little to retort but agreement, for nothing save the intelligible wails of ghosts could be heard in the Void. The Doom Guard bid him farewell, and sent messages to some Spirits that he knew ere his imprisonment. When all was done the Gatekeeper set up his timeless watch again, at the Edge of Time.

It was such that the Doom-Guard returned to his watchful silence. In what seemed very small reckoning of time to he, a ghost of immense magnitude came to him at the gate. The Warden's despair seemed to swell at the approaching mist. Composing himself, the Warden spoke with the authority of a King. "Who are thee to encroach the Gate of Time and Ea? For I am your lord and master, the Gatekeeper, Warden, and Doom-Guard of Mandos." The Ghostly darkness continued to swell with the reckless abandon, it was not the empty, fathomless, unlit, hollow darkness of the Void, but the solid, material, and concrete Darkness of a great Evil. It cackled and spoke in a coeval tone. "Lord you say? Who proclaimed a lowly, unworthy, felon sprit Lord of the Dark?" This obviously powerful ghost caught the Gatekeeper unaware it seemed. He stood fast with steely resolve. "Manwe Sulimo, the Skylord, the Elder King and Lord of the Earth!" Silence the Dark creeped on. What Balrog, Wolf, Dragon, Spider, or Wizard was as such that they struck fear into their Keeper? Surely the mere names of the Elder King would have fended off any dark mist. The Dark cackled, black on black. "Does thou wonder at thy vast quintessence? Perhaps you should reconsider who you think is the Rightful King of Arda..." The Gatekeeper quaked. Truly here was a superior spirit, or was that merely the thought that the Dark implanted in him. I must keep my nerve, the Warden thought to himself, I am the Lord of this realm, appointed by the Skylord and the Star Queen themselves! Elbereth Githoniel!

The Name of Varda Githoniel, the fairest of Goddesses, she who kindled the Stars, seemed to have a far greater affect on the encroaching ghost than that of her husband. It trembled slightly, then adapted. "Call upon them will you?! And in sooth, what makes you think that they will heed you in my presence?" The Doom-Guard swelled with dark thoughts... Could it be? Was I not appointed, but banished? It was small the crimes of my youth! No! Why me? Why have I wasted all days in this Dark, amongst the screams of the damned?! Even as it was thought, it became words, and the Warden was shamed for his treasonous words, but the dark thoughts dwelt still. The Ghosts began to swell about the gate, howling in the rise of the great darkness, the mightiest ghost, ushering on the Gatekeeper fear, hate, and darkness within. The Darkness creeped onward....

As fallen thoughts raced about, the Doom-Guard was in and of itself a battlefield. On one side there was the Duty, his responsibility, that if he should not fulfill the Star Lady's and Skylord's pledge, that vow he made ages ago, when the world he inhabited was fair. Should he fall to the darkness, would he not be cast into the void under a new Warden, doomed forever? Opposite of honor, hate, fear, longing, and darkness... The Darkness, this newfound ghost, could he do what Manwe refused? Why has Manwe not relieved me? Thought the Doom Guard. Why have they not sent fresh Wardens, and allowed me to walk among Time once more? Do I not deserve the slightest merriment? The Darkness, the Great Ghost spoke. "I may make it so, Doom-Guard, thou shall be emancipated from thy bondage of the Valar forever. For a price..." The lesser ghosts orbited at a farther span, and grazed the Warden, he was afraid, and loved it...

The Darkness ceased its seemingly endless expansion, and began its final furious formation. The Darkness bubbled and the ghosts rejoiced, for this was their long awaited hour. The pure black darkness seemed to the Warden to catch fire; though no light would indicate so. In the end, the maelstrom became a huge dark figure. He stood before the Warden, and the misty ghosts began to form into their former shapes of lives past, terrible black shapes, shadowy, fiery, and of many races and species, but within a single margin: Malicious Control. The great figure was a great black warrior clad in fear and hate. The warrior led his depraved host marching toward the Gate of Time, and the swiftly shrinking spirit that held it. How He and his ghastly army were able to reform within the timeless confines of the Void, the Warden could not, and would not guess. A sheenless gauntlet was slowly thrust before the cowering Doom-Guard. The King of Ghosts had him nearly within his grasp...

"Noooo! It cannot--you aren't? You can't be!" The warrior, in a pose for a seemingly friendly handshake, or a reaching hand of malice, cackled and taunted. He avoided the terribly obvious issue of His identity: "Oh yes, thou Page of Mandos, you were forsaken, forgotten whilst Sulimo quivers in fear of the Scourge of his plain, the least of races, and yet, the dominating..." Vibrating silent anger could be detected in his aura. "Those bastard Atani, should they rule the Earth while we, and you, they greatest of creations, are locked up as beasts?" His scarred helmet drew close to the Gatekeeper's face, and he cringed. "We were the first, and shall be the last, with your help... Release my host and you shall have your vengeance! Yes, if it pleases thou, ye one day soon might be not the Doom-Guard of Mandos, but the Doom-Guard of Mandos... He and all Valar, Maiar, Quendi, or Man that stands in our way shall be yours to judge. By the end, thou mightiest Warden, even the Skylord himself will be at our mercy, to cast into a Void... Whilst thou let us through, and if thee wishes, to lead us from this place? Whilst thou help us, and yourself?"

To the Ghosts, no that is not the word, Beings, for they were now nearly as real as those in Ea, lacking one thing only: Time. And that was exactly the Ghost King's stratagem, to regain entrance to the realm rightfully his. But he could not do so without being in total alignment with the symbiotic Guard and his Gate. Were the three minds on one adherence, then all the Ghosts ever spawned could fly under Him. It proved easy, but the Ghost king was growing impatient, His lies would not last on the dauntless Doom-Guard, and the Gods would soon find out, thwarting his plot. He would never again have another chance to sway the unobservant Valinoreans. In a reckless charge, the Black Warrior clasped the trembling hand of the Warden, and exerted His greatest seductive thinking...

The Warden could not resist the black powers, and in a fretful epiphany, the horrible truth came upon him like a blaze. Morgoth, the Dark Enemy of the World, sealed away by the Wrath of the Gods more than ten thousand years ago, had by some terrible flaw of the warden's own despair, had composed Himself, and now stood before the Gate of Time. Held in the obsidian gauntlet, the Warden found his hand no longer to be in his control, his arm, then his shoulder. Black it seemed, and a fearful horror to find yourself under the control of another. The Enemy roared with laughter, and the ghastly host followed suit. "Yes friend Doom-Guard, thou has named me rightly, at least by which you know. But you, and all others shall soon enough know my true name..." "Nooo! Spare me! take me not! Back into the Void I cast you, fiend! You shall never again enter time, not as long as I keep the Gate!" More laughter and the Enemy grasped harder, and the shadow proceeded along his being. "No, I renounce you! I am your master..." "Are you indeed..." The Darkness enveloped him, as it had done to so many other fair and valiant Spirits, for even in the beginning Sauron the Dark lieutenant was a faithful craftsman. But the Gatekeeper held out as long as he could, calling upon all of his strength, but so was He. Though to this day, none has battled the Full Seduction of Evil longer than The Gatekeeper, and for that, at least, he is honored... "Manwe! Mandos! Varda! Ulmo! Aule! Yavanna! Nienna! Este! Nessa! Orome! Tulkas!" Such incantations of the Powers continued until the final despair, grinning in his victory, finally took his repented soul, and after, only one name he uttered in reverence...
Such was the Downfall of the Doom-Guard, as is told in verse form in The Gatekeeper's Bane, the most sorrowful lay of the people of the Maiar, for it chronicles the last struggle and fall of one of their kindred. And in that hour, Mandos, his master, and Manwe and Varda, his King and Queen, finally felt the despair of all of their hope, for they were preoccupied with the affliction of Mankind. And in their shame, the Valier, also known as the High Goddesses, wept as the Great Host of Darkness once again issued forth into Ea. And there was great sorrow in the golden cities of hidden Aman, such as they should never forget. For their forgotten, taken for ended, Dark Enemy of Old had returned with great haste though the Gate of Time, and was embodied in Timed form. But of his Orcs, Dragons, Demon, Werewolves, Wraiths, and other Fell servants, entered as countless slain unsealed mists, and hid themselves in the deep places and shadowy haunts of even modernized planet. For though they had been reformed in the Void, it would be a time ere their Master provided their souls with places to dwell. As for Morgoth, he followed the majority of the disfigured mists, and bid his time for the war to come.

As for the Doom-Guard of Mandos, Warden, Gatekeeper of Time, and Lord of the Void, little was known of his whereabouts in Ea while this tale takes place. He did follow the shadow host into time, but fallen to the status of a servant of Morgoth, it is doubtful he ever was able to enjoy the remnant beauty of Arda as he longed to do for ten thousand years in empty Darkness...

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