For Julia, a birthday gift.
With grateful thanks to Pandemonium
Prologue -Lord of Gifts
"You are the Elven-smith?"
Fingal looked up from the tapestry depicting the Valar in majestic splendour that he had been studying, to observe the speaker.
The man had features of dazzling beauty fairer than any maiden that he had beheld. Such beauty was both compelling and deeply unsettling. Annatar smiled, but the smile did not reach his eyes.
"My master Celebrimbor, told me that you had need of my skills, Lord Annatar," said Fingal. He bowed low.
"Your master is skilled in making rings," said Annatar. "He told me that your skills surpass his in the crafting of weapons."
"So I have been told, lord."
"I desire you fashion daggers for me," said Annatar. "Not mere weapons, but blades of great beauty, pleasing to the eye; weapons that no man could resist; gifts fit for princes or kings of men. Daggers that would please the Valar themselves, such as Aulë might have crafted!"
"I shall do my utmost to give satisfaction, lord. I will begin the work on the morrow. The Elven- smith bowed low and took his leave.
Fingal had just poured the molten metal into the moulds the next day when he had an unexpected visitor.
"I came to see how the work was progressing, my friend," said Annatar. He dazzled the smith with another smile then drew his hand across his brow. "I had forgotten just how hot a forge can be. Could you fetch me some water?"
Fingal hurried off. As soon as he had gone, Annatar took his daggerfrom its sheath and cut his hand, letting a few drops of blood fall into each mould of molten metal. He whispered a charm in the Black Speech "No man can behold and resist the desire, once he touches it, he is both destroyer and destroyed! The mightier the man, the mightier the magic." The spell spoken, he spoke another charm and the cut on his hand immediately closed over. When Fingal returned, he found his guest studying some weapons that hung on the wall on the opposite side of the forge from the furnace.
Annatar felt well content as Fingal showed him designs for the finished weapons. He had already drawn many to his service with his gifts, now he could ensnare yet more men with weapons they could not resist. He would leave them too where leaders of Men might find them, thus would their resistance crumble. Annatar laughed. Men were weak and corrupt. Once he had persuaded the Elven- smiths to create sufficient Rings of Power and bespelled weapons, he would have mighty armies at his call and he would rule supreme until Arda was remade.
Song of Hope continues at