As the train rattled along its tracks towards Canterlot, Morgoth finally had some time to himself to ponder his current situation. The more he thought about everything, the more ridiculous it all seemed to him. All said, he was currently in the form a small, white pony, aboard some strange machine, traveling to a city where the princess of all ponies lived. If there had been anyone who would have dared to tell him that he would be party to such events he would have laughed at them. Then he would have fed their bones to Glaurung.
As he watched the land racing by the train he mused on how greatly he underestimated how vindictive Ilúvatar could be. He had known exactly what kind of torture this world would prove to be for his fallen son. He had been thrust into a peaceful, colorful world and there was nothing he could do about it. He had no power, no servants, no allies, there was nothing he could do about the disgusting Harmony pervading this world. Where once he was the unquestioned master, he was now no more than a powerless observer.
He snorted in amusement. As much as he hated it, he could appreciate that this was certainly the perfect punishment for his crimes.
He felt Angainor stir within him, uncoiling ever so slightly, loosening its grip upon his soul. He breathed an unconscious sigh of relief at the chain’s loosening and imagined that it felt slightly easier to breathe now.
He thought back to the ponies, primarily the yellow one; Fluttershy, she called herself. He remembered what she had said to him, how it brought her joy to bring joy to others. It was such a foolish notion, he thought, so naive. It wasn’t difficult to imagine his brother taking a liking to these creatures.
How could Ilúvatar possibly think he could learn anything from these creatures? Humility, laughter, kinship; what need had he of any of these foolish concepts? What was there to gain from being humble when one could be proud? If one was great then was it not their right to show their greatness to the world?
What joy could laughter bring him that the screams of his foes could not? He had laughed, to be sure, but only the dark laughter of a madman, never the lighthearted laughter of Ilúvatar’s Children. He had no need of it, such a ridiculous thing was for those who had not the power to tear a chorus of pain and terror from the throats of their enemies.
And kinship? He had no need of kin, no need of friends. Why have others do his bidding with kindness when fear was such an effective tool? He needed no kin, truly none existed that could ever hope to count themselves as his equal. He had minions, servants, allies even, and that had always been enough for him.
But there had been one... there had been Mairon.
Mairon had not feared Morgoth. Always had he been his most trusted lieutenant, and powerful even, rivaled in strength only by Gothmog. Always had he followed Morgoth willingly, never faltering. Even in the Ainulindalë did Mairon stand beside him. He had understood and embraced the themes Morgoth had woven into the music and out of all the others who joined him it was Mairon who sang the loudest at his side.
Had Mairon been... his friend? Always had he been by his side, no matter what foe he faced. Even as the Host of Valinor flooded into Angband, Mairon had come to him, urging him to flee, wishing only that his master be safe. He replayed Mairon’s parting words in his mind.
“The field is lost, my lord!” the Maia had yelled to him. “The black one has fallen from the sky and the towers in ruins lie! The enemy is within, they are everywhere, and with him, the light! Soon they will be here! I bid thee, my king, run while there is still time, there are places below!”
Could it be? It was such a ridiculous thing, but the more he thought of it, the truer it seemed. His most loyal servant, his most steadfast ally... his greatest friend. The realization shocked him to his core. How ironic that he could only appreciate it now that he was gone from Arda, never to see it again.
Again he felt Angainor slacken by the smallest fraction, and again it felt easier to breathe. Quickly he pushed such foolish thoughts from his head. They would avail him none here, he needed a clear head for the company he would soon be entertaining. However with any luck these two would be just as naive as his brother and as such, just as easy to fool.
He saw the mountain upon which the city of Canterlot was perched approach over the horizon and allowed himself a moment to marvel at the architecture of the hanging city, imagining what it might look like as it toppled from the mountain to shatter against the ground. Slowly a grin made its way to his face and he felt Angainor constrict in displeasure.
“So very fortunate that thou doth wear the title of princess, mine sisters, for the king of the world comes.”
Morgoth was furious. He had barely been in the city an hour and already he wished to see it burn. After disembarking from the train he had asked the nearest pony for directions to the palace, assuming they would be just as kind and outgoing as the six he had met before. The pompous mare had promptly turned up her nose and ignored him, making a show of walking anywhere but in his direction. The only thing keeping him from punishing the infuriating thing for its impudence was Angainor, which felt as though it had nearly snapped his ribs as it constricted him.
He had been met with the same reaction with every single pony he had asked and he was nearing the limits of his tolerance, chain or no chain, ponies were about to start dying.
He soon spotted a pony wearing armor and assumed that it was a guard. He made his way over to see if perhaps he would be more forthcoming with an answer.
“Hail, guardsman!” he greeted the pony. “Wouldst thou be so kind as to direct me to the palace of Celestia?”
The guardspony remained silent but thrust a hoof out, pointing down what seemed to be a main road through the city. Morgoth nodded a thanks to the guard and went on his way.
It took him nearly an hour of navigating his way through the mass of thrice damned, pompous, self absorbed ponies to reach the palace, and he couldn’t have been more relieved to find that the palace wasn’t nearly as populated as he had feared. He approached the massive gate guarded by two more armored ponies. He asked for directions to the princess and was again answered by silence and pointed hooves. He was completely fine with that and, in fact, preferred it. The less he had to speak with these horrible creatures the better.
He traveled through the halls of the palace taking in the scenery and internally scoffing at the pointless opulence of the palace. And why did it have to be white? What was the fascination these ponies had with blindingly bright colors? Occasionally he stopped at a guard to ask further directions and every time they answered with the same silence and gesture, all of which helped to slightly improve his mood from murderous to simply seething.
The number of ponies he encountered steadily increased as he moved through the palace until finally he reached a huge set of closed double doors that apparently led to the throne room. The hallway before the door was completely packed with ponies, petitioners, most likely, and Morgoth found his mood once again souring at the prospect of being near so many of the damnable creatures once more.
He navigated his way through the crowd as best he could, earning himself far more insults and indignant shouts than he thought he’d ever be able to take without immediately challenging someone to single combat. Eventually he made it to the door and was confronted by a particularly pompous looking pony standing at a podium before the door, the chamberlain, most likely. He put on his least murderous demeanor and approached the pony.
“Hail and well met, friend!” Morgoth greeted him. “I have traveled far to seek an audience with the honorable Princess Celestia. Might I-”
“Name.” the chamberlain demanded.
Morgoth pushed down the fury he felt at having been so rudely interrupted and pressed on. “I name myself to be Shadowfax, son of Eru and-”
“You’re not on the list,” the pony said dismissively.
Morgoth bristled at the pony’s bored dismissal. “Be that as it may, I must meet with the princess. The matter is urgent and she will be expecting me.”
The chamberlain smiled condescendingly at him and Morgoth felt his blood boil. “Yes, I’m very sure your matter is of the utmost importance, but you cannot see the princess unless you have a scheduled audience with her.”
“If thou doth not believe my claims then thou need only ask the princess. She shall shed light on this matter.” he persisted.
“I’m afraid that will not be happening. The princess is very busy, if you like I can schedule you a hearing in, oh say... seven months? No? Then please be so kind as to show yourself out or I shall have the guards remove you forcibly,” the chamberlain sneered.
Few were the instances in his life where could Morgoth could recall being as angry as he was now. The only other being to have disrespected him so brazenly had been Fingolfin and Morgoth had made the damned elf pay dearly for it.
“I shall not be going anywhere until I have my audience with the princess.” Morgoth declared.
“Then you shall be waiting for a very long time.” the chamberlain assured him. “Day Court is currently in recess and-”
Morgoth didn’t hear the rest of what the damned creature said. The creature had disrespected him, insulted him, dismissed him like some commoner, and the damned court was in recess? Red tinted his vision and the chamberlain’s brutal dismemberment was only staved off by Angainor crushing Morgoth’s chest and driving the breath from his lungs. Finally fed up with the infuriating pony before him, Morgoth resolved to simply walk into the room, his quest would not be impeded by this impudent whelp. As he made to simply walk past the podium, the chamberlain leapt out in front of him.
“On no you don’t!” he yelled. “One does not simply walk into the throne room! There are rules, regulations! You cannot simply barge in!”
Morgoth fixed the chamberlain with a withering glare. “I shall have my audience. Do not dare me, worm.”
The pony shot a look to two of the royal guards and they began to approach menacingly. Morgoth grinned and his blood sang; a fight would do him some good.
Celestia was enjoying an afternoon break, one of the few times during the day where she had a scant few minutes to simply sit back and relax. Unfortunately for her, the peace was shattered as the door to the throne room flew open and four brawling ponies tumbled into the room.
She simply stared in disbelief at the scene for a few moments before finally comprehending what she was seeing. As she took in the scene before her she felt her normally even temperament finally snap. It had been a long day and a brawl, of all things, in the middle of her throne room was the last thing she needed.
“What is the meaning of this?” she yelled from the throne, her tone making plain her displeasure.
The brawl came to a halt, two of her pegasus guards held a battered looking white earth pony between them and her chamberlain rushed forward.
“My sincerest apologies, your highness!” he apologized frantically. “This ruffian simply barged in and demanded an audience with you without having a scheduled hearing! He was spouting nonsense about you expecting him and some urgent matter, but don’t worry, I’ll make sure to have him removed post haste.”
This gave her pause, there was in fact a visitor she had been awaiting, perhaps she should hear this pony out. Though before she could give the order to release him the brawl started up again.
He was furious, he would not be stopped here, not by mere mortals! He may have been a pony, but he was still yet the mightiest of the Valar and he would not be denied! He summoned every ounce of strength his new body possessed. He even managed to rip a few iotas of his Vala might from past Angainor, though he suspected the chain may have allowed it. Then with a mighty roar that shook the room, he cast the pathetic guards from his form, throwing them back a half dozen feet.
Still standing upright on his rear legs he cast an accusing hoof at the shocked looking princess.
“Thou shalt not deny me!” he roared, all reason leaving his mind. “I am Melkor, greatest son of Eru Ilúvatar, and I shall not be turned away like some commoner!”
Slowly, Celestia stood up from her throne. There air was tense, her advisors and guards had fallen silent. Likely they thought she was about to punish the arrogant pony who dared intrude upon the princess. A few moments passed and, to the ponies’ obvious shock, she bowed to him. When she lifted her head there was a radiant smile plastered across her face.
“I have been expecting you, my friend. It has been far too long.”
Morgoth sat with Celestia in her personal study, a tray laden with a wide and, to Morgoth at least, bizarre variety of pastries and confectioneries sat set up between them. Celestia sipped on a cup of tea while Morgoth’s own untouched cup sat before him. He wasn’t sure he’d know how to pick it up even if he’d wanted to drink it.
“Eru told me you’d be coming, Melkor. I’m so happy to see you, it’s been so long.” Celestia began.
Morgoth once more wore his mask of false kindness. “Aye, Celestia, far too long. How has thy kingdom fared these many years? Our father hath named this world to be perfect, and it is easy to see that it was no deception that he spoke.”
Celestia rolled her eyes. “The kingdom fares well, but my workload suggests that it’s far from perfect.”
“Aye, but those are the duties of leadership. And who better to handle them than a Vala?” he said.
“Yes, I know, but sometimes I could really use a break, you know?” Celestia said, stretching her wings.
“Aye, I can imagine that perhaps the lives of rulers are not all that the common man might imagine they are.” he joked.
Celestia took another sip of her tea and hummed happily. “So tell me, why exactly did Eru send you here to Equestria? Don’t tell me Manwë finally tired of your antics.” she teased. “I know you two never really saw eye to eye.”
Morgoth’s smile never faltered. “Thou doth speak the truth, sister, rare was the occasion in which we shared a belief. But I suppose that thy jest is not so far from the truth, the Valar of Arda hath, as thou hath so eloquently put it, ‘tired of my antics.’”
“Ah, I think I see. So Eru hopes that we can teach you to be a little less... rebellious?” Celestia ventured.
Morgoth gave a small sigh. “Aye, that seems to be the softest way to put it.”
Celestia let out a small giggle. “You were so rebellious during the Music.” she said. “But I do think I’m up to the task of helping you out, dear Melkor.” Celestia paused and she heard him laugh.
“What’s so funny?”
Morgoth regained his composure. “My apologies, sister. I have simply not heard that name spoken in so long, and now here it is said so many times in a single day.”
To his surprise Celestia nodded. “I know the feeling, so much time can go by without me hearing my own name. It’s always ‘princess’ this or ‘your highness’ that,” she sighed.
“And what of ‘teacher’ or ‘mentor?’” he laughed. “Thou are possessed of so many titles here that it is a wonder that thou ever hear thy own name.”
“Well surely the great Melkor must have a few titles of his own.” Celestia teased. “You are the greatest of us all, I can only imagine the things the Children of Ilúvatar must call you.”
Morgoth let out a half-sigh, half-laugh. “In Arda they name me not Melkor, for that name is not spoken anymore, but Morgoth Bauglir.” He looked up as he heard the sound of a cup shatter, meeting the shocked, furious gaze of Celestia.
“They call you what?” she exclaimed, wings flared in indignant anger. “Who would dare to call my beloved brother such a monstrous name!”
Morgoth became worried, he did not anticipate that she would be schooled in the language of the elves. “It is of no consequence, sister.” he placated her. “Worry thyself none about the names Arda’s children have for me. Surely such a trivial matter affects thee none.”
“Well of course it doesn’t affect me, but that’s not why I’m upset.” she said. “I’m upset because they call you by such a despicable name, it’s not right! Especially because it’s you, you were Eru’s brightest star!”
“Hold it not against them, sister, for elves and men are as children to those such as us. And are children not to be forgiven a few inconsequential missteps?” he reasoned.
Celestia sighed and visibly tried to calm herself down. She used her magic to clean up the spill and repair the broken cup. “I suppose so, and if you can overlook that then I suppose I can too. Love and tolerance and all that.”
Morgoth nodded, that was one disaster avoided. “Now tell me, how came thee to know the meaning of my name? I did not expect thee to know the Sindarin tongue.”
“I spared Arda a few passing glances after you all went down to live there. I must confess that I found the language to be enchanting. I watched enough to pick it up before we began the song that made Equestria.”
“Aye, t’is quite the lyrical tongue,” Morgoth agreed. “But far in excess of my preferences.”
Celestia nodded. “It is hard to imagine you speaking in such a way. It’s actually kind of funny to imagine, though.”
Morgoth rolled his eyes. “Verily. But now I find my thoughts turned to that student of thine, Lady Sparkle. How came thee by this one? I have known no Vala to have ever taken a mortal to tutor, what makes this one worthy of such a privilege?”
“Ah yes, Twilight. She is an extremely gifted unicorn, I’ve never come across a mortal with such raw talent before. I think perhaps one day she may even rival myself.” Celestia explained.
“Come now, sister, surely thou doth speak in jest.” scoffed Morgoth. “A mortal could never have the power to oppose a Vala.”
Celestia frowned. “I never said she would oppose me, only that she may have power to rival my own one day.”
“Mortals are not possessed of the same minds as the Ainur, I think that should one ever acquire such power they would not be content to be lorded over.” he said.
Celestia shook her head. “I think I see now why Eru sent you here. You seem so disconnected from mortals, you really should get to know them better. They’re not all bad, you know.”
Morgoth idly stretched his back leg, the spot where Fingolfin had wounded his last body beyond healing. “I shall have to hold thee to thy word, then.”
Celestia hummed thoughtfully, placing a hoof to her chin. Morgoth did not at all like the look. A smile came to her face and his spirits plummeted at her words. “Ideeeeeaaaaa!” she sang out. “Twilight Sparkle is currently conducting field research on the Magic of Friendship in Ponyville at my request, I think you and her could very well assist each other in your respective tasks!”
“Dear sister, surely thou doth not suggest that I assist a mortal in such a ridiculous endeavor?” Morgoth said, filled with apprehension.
Celestia nodded happily. “That’s exactly what I suggest! You shall go to Ponyville as Twilight Sparkle’s personal student to assist her with her research and to learn how to connect with mortals.”
“Celestia, I think perhaps thou art being rash with thy-”
“Nonsense!” Celestia interrupted, still beaming her smile. “It’s a wonderful idea! You can learn a lot from Twilight and her friends. They’ll teach you all about the values of love, tolerance, harmony; all the staples of Equestrian culture! Oh this is going to be so fun!”
Morgoth felt a pit form in his stomach and moved to protest further, but found himself compelled only to nod at her words. He panicked, such a ridiculous task was far beneath him! He needed to persuade her of the infeasibility of this situation, but try as he might he could not voice a word in opposition. What damnable reason-
He felt his eyes widen in horror as the reality of his situation finally sank in. The oath! The damned oath he’d sworn to Ilúvatar! In his desire to escape he’d simply told the god what he knew he wanted to hear and in his rashness had sworn by Ilúvatar’s own name! He could scarcely believe he’d made such an error, this was the exact same rashness that had brought about the doom of that foolish elf, Fëanor, and the rest of the Noldor race. He would be forced to do exactly as he had sworn, there was no escaping such an oath save through its completion or his death. And, he realized with growing horror, it was very unlikely that he would be dying any time in the near future, not in this world.
Meanwhile, Celestia, completely unaware of the inner turmoil playing out within her wayward brother, simply continued to tell him about how much fun he would have with her student. Truly Ilúvatar had forsaken him.
“I shall compose a letter to Twilight informing her of the arrangements.” Celestia said. “In the meantime I’ll have a room set up for you so that you may spend the night, I’ll not send you to Ponyville just yet, it would be terribly rude to send you on your way so soon after your arrival. And I’m sure Luna will be wanting to see you as well, I’m sure she’s missed you too.”
As Celestia made to get up, Morgoth felt compelled, though not by his oath this time, to mention one last thing.
“Celestia, these lessons were not all that Ilúvatar desired of me.” he began.
She paused halfway to the door. “Oh? What else was there?”
“He spoke to me of our brother, Discord.” He noticed Celestia stiffen at the mention of the other Vala. “He told me that the power of Discord grows and that I am to assist in his defeat.”
Celestia shook her head. “No, that’s not possible, Twilight and the others sealed him away with the Elements of Harmony. There’s no way he’ll be able to escape again.”
“Elements of Harmony?” he asked. “Pray tell, what are these elements of which thou doth speak?”
“Gems forged with the very essence of Equestria.” she explained. “They’re the most valuable and powerful relics that exist in this world, crafted ages ago and imbued with the very life of the world.”
Morgoth’s interest was piqued. “These gems thou describes, they sound remarkably like the Silmarils of Arda. Tell me, who is the one that possesses such power?”
“The Elements aren’t held by a single pony, but by six. Each gem is bound into the spirit of the pony that most exemplifies the ideal it represents.” she told him. “You’ve actually already met them, I believe.”
If it were possible, Morgoth’s spirits sunk even lower. “Dost thou mean to say...”
“Twilight Sparkle and her friends, yes. In their own ways they are currently some of the most powerful ponies that exist in Equestria.”
“Ilúvatar preserve me.” Morgoth muttered to himself in horror.