"The Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dûr he was, and his name is remembered in no tale; for he himself had forgotten it, and he said: 'I am the Mouth of Sauron.'"-J.R.R. Tolkien, Return of the King, Book Five, Chapter X- The Black Gate Opens.
What if there was one tale that remembered him? What if his true identity is remembered, but the bearer of this identity is thought dead? How exactly did the Lieutenant of Barad-dûr come to be? This tale will tell all that we know, in brief, of the beginnings of corruption and the transformation from good to evil.
A/N: This will be a short, two-chapter tale. It will be based on the Mouth of Sauron, which not many tales tell of. Slightly AU, for this man in the story will not come from the 'Black Númenorean race'. I am aware of the changes made within this short tale.
Appendix A in the Return of the King helped greatly to decipher the dates of the happenings, and the King's personality.
Disclaimer: The Lord of the Rings belongs to the Tolkien Estate. This plot belongs to myself, and any elements of the plot that I create are not to be used without permission. I also own Atanamir, and he may not be used without permission.
Chapter One: A Challenge Renewed
The king took a step back, dodging a blow. The experienced Guard of the Citadel charged again, and the king yet again stepped out of the way. This was much too easy for him.
The king smiled, and tripped the guard, making him fall. Before the guard could regain his position, the king put his sword to his chest, and thus, he was defeated.
The crowd clapped politely for the king's victory. No man that has yet challenged the king has been defeated, and so it seemed it would remain to be so, as the king only accepted challenges from the greatest swordsmen.
King Eärnur smiled, and looked at the soldier on the floor. "Your form is good, but you need to watch your feet," he said smugly, sheathing his sword. The soldier nodded, and stood up. With a bow and a murmured 'congratulations, my lord', he left to his post.
The King Eärnur smiled, looking upon his city. Minas Tirith, just years back known as Minas Anor, was a dazzling sight. Its strong, stone walls guarded any attacks from any enemies. Its white banners flew high in the morning breeze upon the white towers that glittered in the sun like peaks of silver. For just a mere seven years he had been king, and this was not at all a bad beginning to a long and prosperous rule. Though the previous hundreds of years had been grievous with the Kin-strife, the Great Plague, the attacks from Mordor and the South, and the waning of Gondor, perhaps this year, 2050 of the Third Age, perhaps in his realm there would be victories for Gondor.
He walked back to the seventh level of the City of Guard, and to his quarters, where hung many weapons of war that he favored. He put his sword in the correct place, making sure that it was not crooked. He delighted in fighting, or the exercise of arms, and was always the champion of every duel he fought. Not one Man could defeat him.
As he went through his pleasurable thoughts, there was a sharp knock on his door. He swiftly came back to reality, and straightening himself up, he briskly called, "Come in."
In entered his Steward, Mardil, and a Ranger of Ithilien. The young Ranger was torn apart, or so it seemed; his dark hair was unkempt, his clothes were in tatters, and he had many open wounds upon his skin. Eärnur gave both of them an inquiring look.
Mardil bowed. "Forgive me, my lord, for disturbing you, but Atanamir, a Ranger of Ithilien, has an urgent message for you."
Atanamir bowed, and handed the message to Eärnur. It was burned at the sides, and sealed with a black emblem. He took it, and opened it thoughtlessly. It was most likely another Orc attack, or perhaps the Corsairs were trying to usurp part of Gondor in the south.
He at first just glanced at it, but than started to read it slowly and carefully. When he was finished reading it, he looked at Atanamir, speechless. When he regained his voice, he whispered, "How did you receive this, pray tell?"
Atanamir held his breath, and a shadow passed over his face, as if bad memories had risen. Finally, he whispered, "It was about three days ago, in the midst of night. My company and I were scouting the area near the old Minas Ithil, where we were positioned."
Mardil shook his head. "Say not 'Minas Ithil' but 'Minas Morgul', for that place is now only filled with Shadow and fear."
"Forgive me, my lord." He turned back to the king. "It was then when we were assailed by a large company of Orcs, and with them was…" He fell silent, and struggled with his inner self. The king waited impatiently for him to continue. Finally, he whispered, "With them was the Lord of the Nazgûl."
A shadow passed over the young man's face, and the king impatiently waited for him to continue. When he did not, the king said, "Continue."
Atanamir was pulled back into reality. "Forgive me, my lord," he said. "It is a hard thing to speak about. Anyhow, all of the men looked at him with fear, and our horses threw us off of their backs, and fled. Every person of my company was slain, other than I. I tried to flee to tell anyone of this attack, but the Enemy stopped me. They surrounded me, and I prepared for my death around my fallen comrades.
But I was not slain. Instead, the Nazgûl approached me, and handed me that message. He said, 'I have a message for your king, and I bid you to take it to him at once. Now go.' His Orcs made a path for me, and I thought this most certainly a trick. I was frozen in place, and could not move. He screeched at me, and his horse grunted, and with all the speed I could muster, I fled. I have been wandering Ithilien for three days, and I have finally made it here."
Eärnur nodded. He turned to Mardil. "Give him some food and lodgings. He must be grieving for his fallen comrades, and he needs some rest."
"Thank you, my lord. You are too kind," said Atanamir with a bow.
Eärnur waved him off. "It is the least I can do. Thank you for bringing this to me. Now go with Mardil."
They left the king to be alone, and he sat down, rereading the letter over and over. A few minutes later, he was still reading it, and did not hear his door open. He was startled when he heard a voice behind him.
"My lord, what is this message about?" Mardil asked.
Eärnur sighed. He looked up to the Steward, and had a gleam in his eyes. "He has renewed the challenge."
Mardil went pale. Finally, he whispered, "If I may give you my counsel, I would advise you not to take the challenge!"
Eärnur shook his head. "He has mocked me, saying that 'along with thy weak heart, thou hast added the weakness of age'. That, I cannot accept."
"But, my lord," Mardil stammered. "You have no wife, or no child; you cannot leave without an heir!"
"Mardil, I highly doubt that I will perish; I have defeated thus far every man who has challenged me, and this is no exception. He challenged me ere seven years ago, and you held me back. He has mocked me much too far! I am the King of Gondor, and no one shall ridicule me and live!"
Mardil realized that he could nothing to hold the king back. He bowed, and said, "When will you be leaving?"
Eärnur looked at the scroll again. "I will leave in three days time," he said. "I will bring only a small escort, as we cannot spare that many. You will be in charge, until I return."
Mardil nodded. "As you say, my lord." With that, he left the room.
King Eärnur now rode on the borders of Ithilien, close to Minas Morgul. It has been six days since he had received the message from the Witch-king, and he had ridden out from Minas Tirith three days past. For the last three days he had rode with a company of about thirty knights of Minas Tirith, including Atanamir, at a leisurely speed, full of confidence.
It was mid morning, and they were approaching Minas Morgul. They started coming upon dead, burned stumps that used to be towering trees, and the stream they were following slowed to a trickle, and altogether stopped.
Finally, they saw Minas Morgul in the distance. Just years ago it was a beautiful white tower, flowering with many trees and flowers, and beneath a lovely bridge there was a clear stream with animals and people alike drawing their water from it's banks. Now, the tower was under a shadow, making the stained white walls look dark and menacing. The trees were uprooted, the flowers were dead, and all signs of living were gone. The stream that used to flow underneath the bridge was gone, and in its place were growing thorny, mutated shrubs.
His company reached the bridge, and they stopped, as if uncertain on whether to go forward or not. The horses were tense, trying to turn back to the west.
The king waited impatiently, wondering if the Witch-king were just a coward, and was not to come forth. After many moments of waiting, he decided that his challenger was hesitant against facing him, decided himself yet another victory, and turned to go back to Minas Tirith.
Suddenly, the doors of Minas Morgul opened, and out he rode at a trot, very calm. He went to the middle of the bridge, and the guards felt as if he were smirking at them, as if he had a dark, dirty secret. They became afraid, and on fear, turned around to ride away.
Behind them were hundreds of Orcs, who had crawled out from their hiding places in the mountains. The guards yelled in dismay, and, unsheathing their swords, they fought off the oncoming enemy as well as could be done.
Atanamir was beside the king as they fought. He guarded his lord as well as the young Ranger could, mercilessly killing any enemy that came by.
But they were outnumbered. Soon, all but Eärnur, Atanamir, and three other guards stood standing. With all the strength they could muster, Atanamir and the three others fought against the Orcs, defending their king as well as possible. Finally, all were slaughtered. When Atanamir was struck through the abdomen, he realized that he was the last one standing to defend his king, and with a muttered apology, he fell to the ground, dead.
All his Men lay about him. Eärnur realized his foolishness to accept the challenge, seeing that it was all a trap to lead him to his death. He saw the Lord of the Nazgûl approaching him, and knew that this was the end.
He came upon him, and Eärnur stood straight, prepared to meet his doom. Instead of being stabbed, as he expected, the Witch-king's darkness swallowed him up, and he fell to the ground, unconscious.