Welcome to the presentation of this year’s silmaril for Most Nefarious Villain. Each year we present this award at great peril. To ourselves, to you, and indeed to the entire fictional universe. And yet somehow we have managed to avoid certain disaster time and time again. Will this year be the end of our good fortune? Will this be the time when the villains finally do us all in? Read on as we descend into the bowels of Mount Doom itself to discover our fate!
The trove discovered
The eye of Sauron casts its penetrating gaze upon the five miserable pawns before him. A princess, a magician, a sorceress, a fae, and a prince. Only one of them is needed, but which one will be best suited for his purposes? Everything hangs upon the choice. Too long has the Lightless Heart, the dúr emel, been misused as a mere prize to be handed out and failed to fulfill its true potential. But in the hands of its true master, it will at last fulfill its purpose and Sauron will be restored to his former glory.
Despite the waves of scalding heat billowing around her, the princess Davira shivers under that piercing gaze. All her designs and longings are laid bare before the eye’s living fire. She who in her own world would not deign to bow the knee to anyone, finds herself overwhelmed by the terrible weight of its power.
“Please,” she says, “What is your will, great…lord?” The last word comes unwillingly from her lips, pulled by a compulsion she does not fully understand.
Layers of whispers and shouts descend upon her in answer, buffeting her mind as well as her ears. That voice. It has the power to unmake her where she stands.
“The trove of the silmarils has long eluded me,” comes that maddeningly rapturous voice, half spoken, half thought. “But at long last my eye has discovered it.“
“I see…” says Davira, though she doesn’t. “And you desire these…treasures for the furtherance of your kingdom? Very well, I am sure that I can acquire them for you in exchange for a…” she dares risk a sly wink, “reward of my own.”
“Silence, wench,” Sauron’s voice booms throughout the high-arched cavern, as threatening as the lava bubbling below. “I have seen your true nature. My eye has plumbed the very depth of your being and found you…wanting. Mere feminine wiles will not be enough for the task at hand.”
The eye sees all
Davira’s shoulders crumple inside her elegant dress. A fantastically comely man sidles up beside her, patting her shoulder in a comforting fashion.
“A princess can only do so much,” he says. Davira pulls back and fixes him a cold glare. The other three figures lurking in the shadows eye him with suspicion as well.
“You are the one they call the Keeper,” Sauron says, his eye casting its withering light upon the man in fathomless black attire. Though the Keeper does not flinch, his glib tongue is held momentarily wordless. “A practitioner of magic after your own fashion. Yet your fair seeming is nothing but a garment, as my own present form.“
The air shimmers amidst the cauldron of fire and steam and then two Daviras stand side by side. The first Davira’s glare turns hot. “You’re nothing but a shape-shifter.”
“I am far more than that,” says the second Davira in the same fluted tones and yet with a high, mocking air. “You see, Lord Sauron, I have gifts that will stand me well in the recovery of these gems you so diligently seek.”
“You needed a strand of her hair to change your form.” The eye had not missed the clever sleight of hand. For the eye sees all. Yet even the Keeper’s dark arts would not be enough. In a way, they were too refined, too well-behaved. No, he needed something more primal, a certain raw, deep power.
“I must consider the others before I make my choice,” Sauron dissembles.
The Keeper dissolves into his former form, simmering within his own vengeful thoughts.
A sword or a flower
“If it is a sword you need, I can best any of these petty sorcerers,” Rabash bursts out. His swagger is clear and his ambition obvious. But how would he fare against the greatest of the elven race to ever live?
“You might be suited to command an army of the Haradrim or the Easterlings, but it will need more than a sword to face the foe I will send you against.” Sauron’s otherworldly voice freezes the Calorman noble where he stands.
“But, O, my lord, I am of the blood of the Tisroc, may he live forever. Surely that must signify—”
The eye flares and Rabadash breaks out in a torrential sweat, as though the air around him had grown hotter than the rest of the cavern.
Slipping from the shadows comes one with the grace of an elf and brimming with the lifeblood of the earth. Even amidst the blunt rock of the volcano, blades of grass and tender flowers spring forth beneath him as he steps forth.
“If it is one of elven race who opposes you, it will take one of the same blood to defeat him.” Lord Sero says, his pride exceeding even that of Rabadash, upon whom he casts a look of utter disdain. “The others belong to the tainted race of men. No help can come from such low places.”
Never trust an elf
The others bristle at Lord Sero’s words, but dare not confront him directly in the presence of the eye. However, the last figure, a woman whose physical beauty surpasses even that of the Keeper, slinks forward, a shawl of fine silk about her shoulders and her flowing emerald dress sweeping the ground.
“I am of no common human stock,” the Lady of the Green Kirtle says. “And my magic and claim to royalty far exceed those of any present here, save only those of yourself, Lord Sauron.” Her voice is poisonously subtle, possessed of a commanding quality Sauron had long supposed absent from Middle-earth.
“Are you one of the Maiar? For your race is the one thing hidden from me,” Sauron says.
“The race of a witch is a carefully guarded secret. Forgive me if I cannot reveal it, even to you.” Again, her voice comes with that sinuous quality, tempting even the Dark Lord himself had he not possessed the will to oppose it.
“You dare not trust a witch,” Lord Sero offers, somehow resisting the witch’s charms. An impressive feat, but Sauron could never place his trust in one who claimed kinship with the elves.
The Lightless Heart bestowed
“There is one more advantage I have over all the rest,” the lady continues with a ring of triumph in her voice. She casts aside her shawl to reveal a brilliant light upon her neck. Amber beams play across her skin, lighting her face so that its beauty is enough to instill desire even within the dark lord’s corrupted thoughts. But even more than her beauty, he desires the stone itself, as his master had long before him. Indeed, who can say but that Melkor himself planted the seed of this desire long ago in his tainted heart?
“You see its power. I have won a silmaril before and this particular stone has made my voice well nigh irresistible,” she continues. “Even a marshwiggle could not oppose me now.”
She was clever, this one. And she would need the silmaril to accomplish his task. He could not take it from her yet.
“Very well. I have made my choice,” Sauron’s voice quashes all sound within the room. All present quail before the great, lidless eye as its power shows forth. They do not hear the gurgling, rushing surge of lava as it swells up from below. Only just in time do the five villains dart away from the edge of the crag as the molten rock spatters over the edge.
But the lava wave recedes as quickly as it comes, leaving in its wake a stone of infinite darkness, a gem which seems to draw in the very soul of all who look upon it. Set in a golden plate with a dark ribbon made from the fused ash of balrog skin, it is a locus for all Sauron’s hatred of what is free and good and beautiful. Yet the lava and flames leave not one mark upon the stone or its trappings. For this is the dúr emel, the Lightless Heart, and the Dark Lord’s scheme is at last ready to be set into motion.
“This belongs to you,” says the Lord of Mordor to the Green Lady. “Do not be afraid to take it up. It is quite cool to the touch.”
Beneath the waves
As much as the Green Lady loathes her present form, no other could be suited for the task at hand. Her creamy flesh and unearthly beauty she has changed for the verdant scales of a thick-bodied snake. It slithers through the depths of the ocean, diving down, down, down into the dark.
The Lightless Heart about her neck cloaks her in shadow and sustains her beneath the breathless waves. More than that, it pulses with a power she has always longed to possess. Yes, this is a stone that will conquer kingdoms and crush the strongest of wills. But first she must finish with the troublesome business of that insidious eye. Bothersome, yes, but a small price to pay for a thing of such surpassing power and mastery.
“I failed with Rillian, and Bism is lost, but there are other realms to win, better realms,” she tells herself. “Jadis came from the wood between the worlds, after all. If anyone can forge rings to take me there it would be this Sauron…He will be more than grateful when I bring him the plunder of these depths.”
On down she swims, feeling the presence of the great mountain beneath her, though all remains dark. What did he call it? The Menaltarma. The highest peak of a once great country, long, long ago cast down below the waves.
Lights at the bottom of the sea
And then at last she spies it, just where the Dark Lord had told her it would be. Little more than the barest glimmer at first, its light grows and grows until the stonework can be discerned, cold, unmoving, yet still intact after so many centuries beneath the waves.
Armenalos, city of kings. Though most of Númenor was destroyed when the judgment of Illuvatar fell upon that rebellious land, this city endured, out of love and honor for the faithful kings who founded it and not least of all in memory of Elros, twin brother of Elrond and son of the greatest mariner of song and legend, Eärendil.
“Truly a marvel,” the Green lady thinks to herself.
She hastens on, swimming ever toward the rainbow lights which play as though the sun dancing upon the water through the watery corridors. Then at last the water gives way, held in check by a sightless seal, by some art made by those who had established this hidden underwater memorial to the greatness of men long ago.
In the midst of a great domed chamber with mosaic scenes of ships and peerless men and a great silver-white tree pressed upon the walls and ceiling, rests an anvil amidst many tables and innumerable tools.
And bent over the anvil, his eyes so full of passion, the heat of the forge burning within them, is a man of such unequaled loveliness and valor that the Lady of the Green Kirtle for a moment halts, reconsidering whether or not even she can contend with such a one. “But in the end, he is nothing more than a mere elf,” she tells herself, and though the light of silmarils shines from a dozen intricately carved boxes in many hues about him, he wears none of them himself.
As she slithers out of the sea into the pocket of air inside this chamber, she leaves behind her emerald scales in the water and dons her dress and shawl once more. Though she keeps the Lightless Heart concealed inside her shawl, she allows the fiery silmaril of the silver tongue to shine forth.
The silver tongue at work
The dark-haired elf whose eyes and countenance shine with the light of the two trees before the breaking of the world looks up at her. Though wary of her sudden appearance, his caution is quickly swallowed up by anger.
“Who are you and how do you come here to disturb me in this my prison at the bottom of the sea?” says the elf, in tones as telling as any the Green Lady ever spoke. Though he has ample space to move about the anvil and between the tables, his feet are bound in thick chains of mithril.
“Fëanor, they call you, yes? Have no fear. I have come to relieve you of your labors.” The orange light about her neck weaves itself mysteriously into her voice, amplifying it, enriching it, and lending it power.
“Yes, that is my name. But you have not answered my question. Who are you? You are no vala. Their beauty comes from beyond this world and yours is bound up within it.”
“I am no one of consequence. Just a humble maiden, sent to end your imprisonment in this accursed chamber.” Her smile could have melted the ice of the Helcaraxë.
The prison of making
Fëanor wavers, unsure of himself, wondering just how perceptive this witch truly is.
“I know of your toils in this place. Death was not enough punishment for you. Your cruel masters, the Valar, sentenced you to make silmarils to bestow upon those of other worlds like myself. You see, I bare one of your creations as a sign of friendship.” And here the Green Lady makes a fateful mistake. For though the silmaril of the silver tongue gives her power to persuade even Sauron himself if used in just the right way, it has no power over its creator. And in this it must be said that even Sauron underestimated his foe, even as his master Melkor had in ages past.
“Friendship you offer, but at what price?” He lays down his tools and the sky-blue stone he had been shaping upon the anvil.
“I offer you freedom, Fëanor, freedom. And if it were up to me, you would pay no price. Only I am afraid that we—I—cannot free you without first defeating those who hold the keys to your prison.”
“You would go against the valar? Unless you be vala yourself, you cannot hope to best even the least of them. That is a lesson I of all the elves know better than anyone.”
“Don’t you see? The reason they want you to give away these gems is twofold. One, as punishment for your unwillingness to surrender them in your former life, and two, as a way to secret them away into other worlds. If they remain in this world, they can be combined to form a crown of power that can break even the power of the valar.” Her eyes glitter with pride and passion, appealing to Fëanor’s long-held resentment of those who sought to guide and direct him in ages past. Yet no one could ever master the will of Fëanor of the Noldor, save perhaps Finwe, his father, and he yet wandered now in the halls of Mandos, slain long ago.
The silmarils plundered
Fëanor pauses, considering the lady’s offer. It is perhaps true what she had said, though it had never occurred to him until recently to use the light of the silmarils against those who first made that light. Though he was not swayed by the entwining vines of her speech, he could still join her of his own free will. He has little reason to believe that she would truly free him, but he could at least have vengeance upon the valar.
“I am not certain. I would need some time to think upon this.”
“There is no time. I have been told that Ulmo appears to you at times. I came in a form he would not recognize and concealed in darkness, but we cannot trust he will not come upon us any moment.” Her rich and lilting voice seeks to sway him with its hypnotic rhythms. “There is no time left, dear one…no time at all. Surrender the stones to me now…all I need is one of each hue…”
Fëanor hesitates one last time. Then, slowly and deliberately, as if under some compulsion, he places one of each of the stones arrayed about him in shades from purple to yellow to green to red, into one of the ornate boxes around him.
“Here. Whatever you do, do it quickly. You are right. Ulmo will visit soon.” He does not look at her as he hands her the box, his eyes cast back toward the far side of the chamber where shadows cling to the stony rubble of several pillars that fell and crumbled an age ago.
The Green Lady snatches up the box, trying not to look overly eager, but in the end what does it matter? She has the stones and once Sauron has them in his crown, she will have her rings and set off at last to the wood between worlds.
She gives him one last enticing smile before plunging back into the watery barrier and, once she is out of site, transforms back into the great green serpent and speeds back toward Middle-earth.
Fëanor shakes his head, turning back to the rubbled shadows. Now it is time to wait…
At last, the Easterling smiths of Mordor had finished affixing the silmarils to the crown. Long had Sauron prepared this steel bulwark to house these stones, one for each color of those Fëanor had ever made.
The Lady of the Green Kirtle watches eagerly as the trembling men bring the throne before the great eye of fire.
“Now is the moment of your triumph, my lord,” the lady says. She can almost feel the rings upon her fingers and hear the curious humming sound they will make as they work their magic.
The crown will restore Suaron to his physical form. Yes, the silmarils will burn him horribly, but the Lightless Heart will dim their radiance enough to make it bearable and allow him to master the other stones. And once he is restored to his bodily form, he will take up once again the rulership of Middle-earth and this time none shall oppose him.
It takes four of the smiths to bear the crown. The swarthy men, thick of arm and chest, raise the crown up, trembling, biting back the pain in an effort not to cry out.
But as the steel crown ascends into the eye, something happens that Sauron does not expect. The gems burst into flames, their light flaring brightly for several moments and then turning into shimmering pools of liquid and spilling out of the crown and onto the floor. The Easterlings scream, fleeing from the burning splashes.
“What treachery is this? What ruse are you playing at, witch?” Saurons’ voice booms out amidst the cavern of Doom. Massive spikes of rock plummet from the upper reaches and shatter about her and the hapless smiths. The lady shivers in fear, her form twisting and writhing into serpentine shape once more.
“I gave you the stonessss, my lord. If there is any treachery, it liessss with the elf!” she hisses at him defensively.
And at last the eye sees what its lust for power and dominion had hidden from it. “Fëanor! You shall pay dearly for this deceit!”
His voice rings out, smothering the cavern in a cacophony of rage, all but deafening all those who hear it and threatening to bring down the cavern on top of them. Fëanor…Fëanor…Fëanor…but how did he make the false silmarils so quickly and so cunningly to fool even the eye of Sauron? Someone had to warn him. He could not have done it alone…
Change of heart
Back in the depths of the sea, not long after the Green Lady had departed, a handsome figure dressed in the deepest of blacks emerges from the shadows.
“Thank you for coming, and for warning me of Sauron’s plans,” Fëanor says. Though in life he had been proudest and matchless in mind and will amongst all the children of Illuvatar, he had seen the end that path had taken him. In after long centuries in the halls of Mandos, the valar had at last granted him this gift: to craft silmarils anew, but this time as gifts and not as treasures to be possessed. And Sauron could not be allowed to oppose that purpose.
The chains he wore kept his spirit bound to the mortal world, but he could have cast them away willingly had he wanted. But there was much work to be done ere his fell deeds could be amended. The fire within him burned still, but now a fire under the mastery of wisdom, hard fought and gained through bitter experience and long years of suffering, but a fire mercifully allowed to burn again once more.
“Now I must return to my work,” he adds, eyeing the figure warily, yet knowing that Ulmo was watching all the time and at the slightest hint of threat would be at his side. “I trust we both got what we wished.”
“Indeed. No one slights me and gets away with it. Not even the Lord of the Rings,” says the Keeper, before fading back into the shadows.
And that concludes this year’s Most Nefarious Villian Silmaril Award ceremoy. Thankfully, we can always count on evil to turn in on itself and it looks like the Silmaril Awards will continue on for another year at least. And we got a little sneak peek into where all these mysterious silmarils have been coming from.
I hope you enjoyed it.
This year’s awards are only half over, however. Be sure to check out the other ceremonies using the links below. We’ll pick back up with the next ceremony on Monday over at Christine Smith’s site for the presentation of the Silver Tongue award. I can’t wait!
Monday, 9/19 – Jenelle Leanne Schmidt – Most Epic Heroine
Tuesday, 9/20 – Jem Jones – Wisest Counselor
Wednesday, 9/21 – E.E. Rawls – Most Magnificent Dragon
Thursday, 9/22 – Samantha Benedict – Strangest Character
Friday, 9/23 – DJ Edwardson – Most Nefarious Villain
Monday 9/26 – Christine Smith – Silver Tongue
Tuesday, 9/27 – Mackenzie Keene – Most Mischeivous Imp
Wednesday, 9/28 – Grace Taber – Most Majestic Ruler
Thursday, 9/29 – Sarah Pennington – Most Faithful Friend
Friday, 9/30 – Jenelle Leanne Schmidt – Most Epic Hero
For those of you interested in numbers and those sorts of non-fictional things, here are the final results. The Lady of the Green Kirtle walked away with quite the convincing win on this one.
Lady of the Green Kirtle (Chronicles of Narnia) – 45.63%
Lord Sero (City Between Series) – 14.56%
Rabadash (Chronicles of Narnia) – 14.56%
Davira (Ilyon Chronicles) – 12.62%
Keeper (Entwined) – 12.62%