I do not own Lord of the Rings, or any of Tolkien's characters. Any characters and plot lines I create are mine.
A/N: This is my first AU story and Lord of the Rings story. I had this idea floating around in my head for years, and fanfiction actually gives me the chance to put it down. I have a Nazgûl obsession. When reading, I always have a curiosity with what is considered to be the "evil" side. I search for empathy in evil characters. I like to think that while the Nazgûl are under the influence of Sauron, they still retained a part of their humanity. I hope you enjoy this story.
Chapter 1: A New Family
2999 Third Age
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, yet only three remained, the other four having been consumed by dragon fire. Seven rings that had failed to bring the Dwarves under Sauron's control. It was failure, the only way to describe what had occurred. The Nine had fallen under his control, but the Seven had fallen to their own desires. Nothing was gained, save the three rings without bearers to sway.
Clearly he had underestimated, or perhaps even overestimated the Dwarf-lords, depending on how one would look at it. He had underestimated their strength against his will, but overestimated their strength against greed for wealth. It was a setback, but it proved something. Men were easily corrupted by power, and so the three rings that remained would be reserved for men alone. Sure, power could be bought by wealth, and certainly this was the way those pitiful beings which were named great kings came into their titles. The Dwarf-lord had only focused on the wealth, and using the power that came with it to gain more. That was the difference, and the downfall of those men. It was why he had nine loyal servants, and not sixteen. But he could have twelve. Who to pick, however? They needed to be representatives of each country. Gondor being first, the prize. Especially one of Númenórean race would be ideal. Better yet, one of the Dúnedain. How he would love to corrupt them, and the ultimate being the heir of Isildur, still hidden in the wild. Yes, he would find Isildur's heir, and offer him a prize for his nobility. If he was anything like his ancestors, he would fall, and if not him then his children. Next would be one of the Haradrim, or an Easterling, which would not be difficult at all. They were already sided with him. The trick, of course, would be convincing one of royal blood to take a ring. It would take persuasion, but Sauron knew that would not be a problem. He had deceived the Elves once, those servants would be no problem.
And finally, one ring would go to one from Rohan. It would be no problem convincing someone from Rohan, those horse peasants were weak. He already had one within his grasp.
One Week Earlier
Éomund had the perfect example of a Rohirrim family, a wife and three beautiful children. Éomer was eight, already beginning to learn the basics of sword fighting and becoming an accomplished rider. He would make a warrior one day, and a Marshall as he was the nephew of the King. Éowyn was four, and becoming an outgoing young girl, preferring battle games with her brother and rides on her pony instead of dressing up with the other young girls in Edoras. Finally, there was the youngest, Éoryn, who at two years old loved nothing more than to go for rides with her father.
This was what Éomund was doing, taking Éoryn on a journey through the pastures near Edoras, where the best horses were bred and raised to serve the Rohirrim. Waves of green and gold whipped across the grassy plain with each gust of wind, and the two were wrapped in extra clothes to protect from the colder weather. The little girl being held in front of her father clasped the silver-grey mane in front of her, as the tall dappled-grey stallion pranced in front of the herd. There were horses of every size and color, and the foals from spring were growing up fast and becoming stronger with each passing day. Éomund stopped near a specific herd, knowing that Éoryn would want to visit one particular mare and colt. Both were tall and coal black, and though black horses were not highly praised in Rohan, Éomund did not discourage his daughter. There seemed to be no evil in either horse, and Éomund had already looked into purchasing the colt for Éoryn. Both Éomer and Éowyn had their own horses, having connected to certain foals at a young age. While Éowyn was too small to begin training her young horse, Éomer had been riding Firefoot for years. He allowed Éoryn to continue on to the young horse, smiling to himself as he thought of the look on the little girl's face if she knew the horse would be hers.
Éomund was broken from his imagining by three approaching black dots over the plain. It appeared to be three riders, clothed in black on black horses. He rose to meet them, placing Éoryn on a rock nearby so he could keep an eye on her and she wouldn't be accidentally stepped on.
"Hello," he called as they approached and, seeing as though they were travelers, he added, "What brings you to Edoras?"
The first thing that struck him as odd, following of course, the dress of the travelers, was the response of, "We have come for black horses."
Éomund was immediately concerned, as he remembered the servants of Mordor had come once for horses, specifically black ones. He began to calculate his chances in a fight, but seeing as Éoryn was a few feet away, he decided against an immediate conflict. "I am not the owner," he chose to respond. "I cannot sell any of these horses to you. If you wish, I can go to Edoras and return with him." Éomund hoped the rider would take him up on the offer. He did not want to risk his life, his daughter's life, or the safety of Edoras for a few horses, especially if his warning was the only thing that could save others.
"We did not come to buy," was the response he received.
"Well, then I will have to ask you to move along," Éomund said, his voice beginning to betray his fear. The rider just laughed, before raising his sword. Éomund drew his.
"You dare to defy me?" the rider asked mockingly, and when Éomund had no answer, the rider charged, swinging at Éomund. The others followed, surrounding Éomund. He was quickly overwhelmed, and it was the leader who delivered the final blow. The three then separated, collecting the black colts from the heard, who tried to run in fear. The shrill whinnies surely could have been heard for miles, but they eventually succumbed to the will of their new masters. The three riders were about to depart when they heard a quiet voice come from the ground.
The voice came from a little girl sitting a few feet from where her father lay dead. She could not have been older than two, and looked at the unmoving form covered in the red substance that she was too young to recognize as blood. It was one of the others who approached her first, yet unlike other people she did not cower in fear of the black riders, either because she was not affected by their power or did not understand that they were Nazgûl.
"What should we do with her?" came the voice of one of the Nazgûl, which to any outside ear would sound thin and raspy. Uvatha's voice was not actually thin or even raspy to the ears of Adûnaphel, who had approached the little girl.
"We should leave her," came a third voice. This was Khamûl, who was in charge of their mission and was unsure of the interest Adûnaphel had taken in the little girl.
"You want to just let her die? She is all alone out here, and you want to just leave her?" Adûnaphel practically shrieked.
"Well, the what do you propose? You are not her mother, Adûnaphel, and Er-Murazor would never approve!" Khamûl yelled back, just as the little girl began to cry. Adûnaphel leaped from her horse and scooped up the girl, whose cries began to cease. Khamûl looked at the child. It was strange. Most children would cry harder when close to the Nazgûl.
"Enough, both of you. We take her near Edoras and leave her where someone will find her," Uvatha said. Adûnaphel looked horrified.
"They won't take her back! Not when we have been near her!" Adûnaphel knew how all men treated the Nazgûl, and if they were no return a child to the Rohirrim, they would think of her as tainted. The girl would most likely be killed.
"I do not know why I am agreeing to this. We will take her, and let Er-Murazor decide." Khamûl said. He felt strange, and he secretly did want a child. "We must be going."
Sauron had been surprised when three of his servants had shown up with a toddler. Uvatha and Adûnaphel were quite taken with this young human, and even Khamûl had warmed up to her. The others had taken some convincing, and Er-Murazor had a long discussion with Khamûl after, but it was too late to take the child back. The little girl was becoming fond of her new family, taking to Adûnaphel as a mother and, as a surprise to everyone, Khamûl had agreed to be her father. Adûnaphel named her Azruphel, even though the girl was not Númenórean. Though Sauron was still skeptical, he could see how he would work little Azruphel into his plans.
A/N: There you go, chapter 1. A few notes on naming of characters: Éoryn is not a name you will see very often, but I will provide some explanation. I chose "Éo" as the beginning of her name to match the names of her siblings. The ending of "ryn" comes from an Anglo-Saxon dictionary. I derived it from the word "ryne" (pretend there is an accent above the "y"). It means 'the mystery', which is fitting for two reasons. Éoryn is a mystery to the Nazgûl, and her identity is a mystery to herself (as she will go by the name Azruphel). The names I give the Nazgûl come from the Middle-earth Role Playing games. Er-Murazor is the Witch-King and a Númenórean. Under him are Khamûl, the Easterling, Dwar of Waw, Ji Indur Dawndeath, Akhorahil (a Númenórean), Hoarmurath of Dir, Adûnaphel the Quiet (a female Númenórean), Ren the Unclean and Uvatha the Horseman.