Disclaimer: The world belongs to Tolkien; the words alone are mine.
A/N: Set in the early Fourth Age, after the fall of Sauron. The Mouth of Sauron was a lieutenant in the army of Mordor, under the command of Sauron. (He will be in the movie, I've just found out – yay!). Alatar and Pallando were two out of five of the Istari (wizards, like Saruman and Gandalf), who went east and were never heard of again. The other wizard, Radagast, will probably also appear in this at some point.
Thanks to Claudia for the beta.
He left the horse at the edge of the sea of Rhûn – he'd run the useless beast into the ground, until neither his sorcery nor the sheer force of his almighty will could persuade it to go further. He did not have the time to bleed it dry, to take what power he might from it – he was fleeing now, the admission near-painful. Beaten down by a rabble of Elves and Men, by creatures that he thought were long put beneath him.
Ah, but there was a certain freedom he had now. The bonds that Sauron had put upon him were gone – his actions were his own. And the secret that he held; not even Saruman had known of that. He turned and spat back in the direction of Gondor, and of the Elf-Kingdoms. Let them rejoice, the fools. He would return, and when he did, that self-proclaimed King would have nothing more to rule but ashes and dust.
He would need a name, he thought. He'd long forgotten his mother-given name, although not quite forgotten his mother – he had an occasional flash of memory, heard in his mind a snatch of cradle-song sung to a beloved son, and then quelled it as quickly as he could. Sentiment helped nobody. Emotions made you weak, and he who had been called the Mouth of Sauron abhorred weakness.
He'd spoken naught but the tongue of Orcs for many years, too many, but a tongue formed in their harsh language would not suit his purpose. Adûnaic, the language of his ancestors, brought with it too many painful memories. In the end, he settled upon a name in the Elvish tongue, for the mere fact that it amused him to bend the words of that people to his own purpose. Morglin, he named himself, dark gleam, named for the flash of a blade in the dark that was the last thing many of his enemies had seen.
On the horizon, a small settlement could be seen—a fishing village, most likely. Morglin smiled a dark smile, and headed towards it. Where there were people, he could find a horse. His destination was still far to the east. Once again, he slipped his prize from beneath his doublet, turning it over in his hands.
A few years back some Orcs under his command had taken it upon themselves to despoil some barrows they'd found, to the north of Khand. The locals had avoided the spot, seemingly consumed with fear. But his troops did not know fear; or rather, they feared him, and his master, more than they could have feared anything else.
The place was protected by magic; twelve were killed in the act of breaching the wards, another five he drained the life from to cast his own spell in reply. The middle barrow had been the largest, yet the plainest; while the surviving orcs squabbled over gold and mithril trinkets, no doubt only to be piled in the corner of their filthy hovels and forgotten about, he had stood inside it, and stared.
Upon the walls the words were clear as day, undimmed by the passage of ages. Alatar I was, and shall remain. In my keeping the Key lies – Pallando alone knows the way to the door. Fallen we were, but none can fall so far as to fade from the sight of the One.
It did not look like a key; in fact, it did not look like much at all, although when Morglin caught sight of it out of the corner of his eye it sometimes seemed to change shape. In the palm of the hand it was sometimes warm, sometimes ice-cold; at night he dreamt of it.
The Key. He'd tracked the story down, whispers of myth and legend, notes scribbled by madmen upon scraps of human skin. He'd turned magic to it, scrying in crystal and blood; he dared not try the Palantir. Bit by bit, the secrets of the world had unfolded, the truth unveiled.
The Key to a lock unthought-of; the key to the Void. A way to release Morgoth, to bring about the Dagor Dagorath. He held in his hand the power to destroy the world, and create it anew.
He had said nothing of it to Sauron.
He smiled once more, tucking his prize back into a hidden pocket. He had a Blue Wizard to hunt down, and a destiny to fulfil.
A/N: Dagor Dagorath: The great battle at the end of the world, when the armies of Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, and those of Manwë, his brother, and highest of all the Valar, will do battle to decide the fate of the world forever.