Standard Disclaimer: All characters, locations and direct quotes from the world of Middle-Earth belong to J.R.R.Tolkien.
Summary: wherein Morgoth unwittingly(?) grants Hurin a cognitive upgrade.
Pitted stone chafes ulcerous skin, my tunic long crumbled to rags in the caustic breath of Thangorodrim. My rasping sob echoes among the barren slopes. As surely as Morgoth’s fell magic binds me to this stony throne, it binds life undying to my withered flesh.
…with my eyes you shall see and with my ears you shall hear and nothing shall be hidden from you, the fallen Valar’s curse brands my memory. If eyes are windows to the soul, it follows that eyes are also windows for the soul. I am what I see. My awakening comes slowly at first. Morgoth’s curse renders all of Beleriand with crystal clarity not only to my sight but also to my thought. Why? Geometry, of all things.
We make sense of the world through images… but an infinitude of things can cast the same image. Is that a boulder I see yonder or a mountain leagues away? Are the Noldor sculptures on the pillars of Gondolin scooped out of stone or standing proud? But we feel no such bewilderment, we do not even notice it. The mind must contain a template of the world, a model to guide our vision. And what of a Valar’s sight? How much more vast must be their mind’s eye inflicted on me for torment.
Turin, son! Nienor, little flower! How wretched that I see the evil that is your fates but powerless to avert it. O Morwen, beloved! If only you had fled Hithlum as I counseled. Alas, pride has ever been your weakness. Terrible will be the vengeance I shall bring down on Angband…
Shadow steals across the desolation of Anfauglith, as night claims the far North. The sky is black and clear as a winter pool. For a change the three peaks that tower behind me do not stain the air with their belching. I squint as light streaks far above. Iron ore rains down from heaven, skimming the sea of air like pebbles across a lake. The heat of their passage shatters them. I watch the glowing debris begin their long fall. I wonder why the smaller rocks fall no slower than the larger ones, contrary to common wisdom. Ah… common wisdom leads to a paradox. What is a large rock but a cluster of smaller ones. A cluster cannot fall slower or faster than itself. So obvious, I wonder why I didn’t think of it before. I watch and think. There is little else to do.
Orc campfires dot the sands far below. I watch the kindling turn to ash and smoke. How could one substance possibly turn into another? What rules governed such a transformation? The wisest of Turgon’s court babble about air, water, fire and earth but I have formed a better explanation…
I remember Sador my house servant who carved intricate wood toys for my son. Ingenious constructs that could be pulled apart and rebuilt into other shapes. So many shapes from building blocks, held taut like a bowstring, just waiting for their bindings to be cut to release the spring. Might not all substances use the same trick? All transient shapes from the same set of invisibly tiny elemental blocks, just waiting for a spark to sever their binding energies and unleash the fires within. Let the Elves parrot their blurred vision of reality. I will build my own from first principles, piece by piece…
The ground shudders from approaching footsteps, like a gong of doom. Morgoth visits to taunt me, though not as often as before. My tormentor is preoccupied with obliterating Gondolin of late, the last great kingdom of the Elves.
The blades of your foul Orcs would not shatter so readily if only Gothmog had wits enough to optimize the lattice of iron and carbon within the steel, the mocking chuckle spills from me unthinkingly. Morgoth freezes. The monstrous visage betrays no expression, but I sense he is startled. I imagine gears turning in his head. Are the Valar so blind they cannot imagine better ways of craft? So arrogant they do not realize the world is woven of energies beyond their ken? Waging war with swords? I spit in derision.
I seem to have convinced Morgoth to defer the destruction of Gondolin. Vast legions of orcs are recalled from the borders of Beleriand and set to a singular purpose. To mine Thangorodrim, delving deep for the ore that I predict must exist. They find it after much seeking and my vengeance finally begins. Orcs sicken and die in droves as they dig out the ore from the very depths of Arda. Morgoth throws ever more of them to the task heedless of their agony. The mound of ore grows each day, black as pitch. I give it a fitting name. Pitchblende.