Each chair of the circle was occupied, the seated individual silent and pensive. A single vote yet remained uncast and it was crucial. To exile one of their own to the Void, a unanimous vote was required. In the circle's center, two Maia holding flaming swords guarded the prisoner, Morgoth. He knelt in the center of the Máhanaxar, gagged, and bound securely with a heavy chain of indeterminate metal.
Manwë stood and began to walk around the interior perimeter, his eyes never leaving the prisoner. He was in no hurry to cast his vote; the passage of time was inconsequential to immortals. He thought back to earlier, happier memories when they were both younger, more innocent, and dwelling in Eru's halls.
Beautiful was the word that best described Morgoth when they all dwelled in Eru's Halls. He had beauty that rose above the rest, even in a group of ethereal, immortal beings of light. However, he had a hidden defect; he was tone deaf. His singing voice was flat and always off-key. When he was singing alone, his voice was a rich chocolate baritone. Performing solo, his inability to carry a tune mattered not because he could make a song his own. When he joined the celestial choir, however, his voice clashed with the others and harmony became disharmony. It was not rare for him to be asked to refrain from singing by those who were grouped near him, and over time that had caused him to withdraw from his brothers and sisters, preferring the companionship of a small group of friends or his own solitude.
Yet Eru insisted on Morgoth's being included whenever the chorus performed. Once, Manwë asked why Morgoth had been included in the choir yet again. Eru looked saddened at the question, but responded, “Wouldst thou reside within a world of color without the inclusion of black or white, my son? It is only in the fullness of the whole that the richness of each can be realized.” Manwë fell silent and bowed as he left his father's presence. If Eru refused to exile Morgoth from performances, he had no right to bespeak him.
Eru's plans continued and none was party to the fullness of his vision. A summons arrived and Manwë answered, joining several of his brothers and sisters as they answered their own call. He found himself standing next to Morgoth at one side of the small group.
Eru appeared before them. "It is My desire to offer each of my children the opportunity to exercise their full potential. To enable this, I have created worlds in different parts of the Timeless Halls, each to be designed, refined, and populated with a variety of plants and animals as you see fit. I have selected a small group to oversee each of these worlds. I have chosen each of you to care for this world which I have named Arda.”
A vast space opened around them. They moved toward a spiraled arm in a grouping of fiery stars ahead of them. As they came closer and closer, the vast scope of Eru's creation became evident and each was silent, awestruck.
Eru beckoned them closer, gesturing toward a small group of planets circling a yellow sun. “The third planet is positioned in a prime position to accept life,” he said to them. “After you have reformed the land, built a planet on this barren rock with the necessary components to support life, and populated it with vegetative growth and animals, I will allow the first of my children to be born. These beings will be your primary responsibility. It will be your task to guide them and encourage them. Finally, in the fullness of time, I will bring forth a second population of children. They will learn from the first children and your interaction with the second-born will be at your own discretion.”
Although a few of their group declined to participate, almost all of those summoned by Eru accepted his assignment. The small group of Valar gathered above the barren rock and discussed the direction they should take to make a verdant, vibrant and life-filled planet. They gathered to sing their plans into existence and begin forming the bleak world in front of them into a world where they could dwell while making it fit for the Children. Their voices raised, and again Morgoth sang alongside them. Yet his tones were not dulcet and did not harmonize with the theme of the others. His inability to carry a tune stood forth once more and Manwë cringed as he listened to the discordant notes of his older brother.
Several of the maiar went to his brother and attempted to coax his tune into symmetry with the others, but they failed. Underneath the harmony of creation voiced by the group, lay a theme of darkening, violence and disarray sung by Morgoth. As the Valar moved to the surface of Arda and began their attempt to populate the world with plants, animals, insects and birds, Morgoth pulled away from his siblings and began his own experiments with life creating stinking fens, creatures who lived in the darkness, and those who preyed on the blood of others. When the Lamps on the pillars began to affect his own creatures, Morgoth devised a plan that he put into action, causing the collapse of the pillars and the destruction of their lights. That was only the first of many clashes between Morgoth and his siblings.
Manwë stopped pacing the Máhanaxar and turned to face the prisoner. "Once more, my brother, you have come close to destroying all in your misguided attempt to make your Song the prevailing voice. We cannot allow this to continue. The evil allowed into the world by your personal Song at the time of its creation cannot be eliminated, but if you remain alive to voice more permutations, Arda will fracture completely with a complete and total loss of all life. This, I cannot allow. Although I have loved you from time immemorial, I must join with the votes of my brethren." Manwë turned slowly, looking at each of his fellow Valar. Raising his voice, he said, "I vote that Morgoth be sentenced to reside forever from this time forward in the Void, such sentence to be carried out immediately."
The Valar stood as a whole and raised their voices in song. A vortex began forming in the center of the Máhanaxar. The two guards withdrew, leaving Morgoth alone in the center of the circle. A crackling sounded as power built and with a crack the dimensions shifted and a wormhole opened. Námo, he who was often called "judge", came to the center of the circle carrying a long rod of glowing metal. He placed one end of the rod against Morgoth's chest and pushed forcefully. Morgoth tumbled over and fell into the open doorway. The crack in the dimensions snapped closed behind him. Silence spread across the Máhanaxar as each of the Valar turned and left the circle.
Late that day, as Anar set, the clouds on fire with her flames, Manwë stood watching it from the heights of Taniquetil. "Sing in the Void, my brother," he whispered. "Sing in tune and perhaps, someday, you may be released to join us once again." He turned away, humming a sad tune under his breath.