1. The Ring and the Crown
by A. Vulgarweed
for Tyellas (whose influence it bears, and whose birthdays are feast
Part 1: Mortal Man
Strangle the boy with a cord woven of sinew from the father, whom I have slain myself. Allow him one chance to scream or cry before his breath is taken. Capture the cry in a vessel of glass. I keep the vials all along one wall. Sometimes I break one and I let the breath go, screaming down the wind - each one is a cold high wail.
They say this is the Gift of Men, to be less substantial than dust, wasted upon the gale and then heard no more. To strive, to build, to grow, and to die: The Glowing Ones, the Whores of the Valar, have dressed the ugly truth in their pretty words which they hand down
from their groaning palaces on the grave-mounds of Time. But this is the truth: the sons of Men live for ever striving with Death upon a field of honour in which no honour is possible, and They watch us like mighty lords entertained by the blood-sport between slaves. They would never stoop so low as to feast and take pleasure amid our flesh and bones, instead they grow bright upon the wreckage of our souls.
Love this world or despise it, it matters not - to corruption our bodies aspire, and our souls to oblivion.
My father told me stories of our homeland: he said there was a hill upon which none may walk save the King, at the sacred times; a place where none may speak and only the lord of Men was deemed worthy to offer up his worship. There we practice our silence, our lot for time to come, and we have mastered it well - kneeling thralls, bending down for those who deigned to bless us with a cruel brief shimmering of life and only tantalizing tastes of power. Let them be. My father died for his folly, in battle - there were none to see, and none to know whose sword it truly was who brought him to the dirt. But had he died in his bed of noble age, in a thousand years who would know? Even now his name is barely spoken, it is ashes in the mouths of the dying.
Is it so great a wonder some sons of Men might take our prayers elsewhere? For we found indeed that those who did honour to the Liars of the West had no more of the fire and the glory, the ride and the wind that is life and power, than those who did not, and less by far than those who learned the rites that were whispered of in the dark places. For we learned that the mighty wolves of the wood were drawn to the taste of blood, that the dark trees would press in upon and whisper fear to our enemies, that it was as good to die in sacrifice to the shadows as in battle, and better still not to die at all. Ruthless I was, and I survived many battles - even those they claimed to be the greatest warriors of my own kind could be made to soil themselves like infants in whimpering fear when the allies of the shadows could be called upon to rend them. The great bloated spiders with the poison of death came; the winged creatures; the stupid brutal Orcs with their interminable numbers they came. And I had heard there were those greater than all of these, and my sacrifices I made.
Uncertain which kind were most pleasing, I tried them all: animals of course, and then lesser humans of all sorts: battles I dedicated, women and children I had dragged by their hair upon the field and torn to pieces - the pleasures of the soldiers too I sent away into the dark clouds upon the black mountains. A chamber I had built, and mortifications I performed there, of my soul and my body, night upon night: I bathed myself in the heat and cold; I offered up my sweat and seed and blood and those of others: under the full moon and within the sound of thunder - under the starless dark and pitiless sun.
And yet He came to me when the sky was red in the West and I had done naught that day but battle. Covered in gore I was and weary, and, near-broken until rest I found myself staggering down a small hillock into a black and leafless wood. Where I had thought to remove my battered armour and cleanse myself of the stench of lesser blood in a stagnant water-hole He slipped from the dark forest like a rustling sound, wearing the form of a great wolf all black. This was the shaggy form that had appeared in the smoke of my altars, dim in the corner of my eye. Naked I stood in foul water, and knew it was of no avail to grope for my sword; He would be upon me in the time it would take for my eye to find it. Ordinary wolves I could call, yes, but I knew this to be no mere beast.
Therefore as I stood facing the creature, I was not so very shocked to hear Him speak. "You've fed us well, little Kingling who has taken his crown by the way of the wolves. Down in the valley my kindred are eating their fill."
"And what is the meat that sates you, O wolf-lord?," I asked with some boldness, for I perceived He would not attack me this day.
The Wolf laughed, a harsh ringing howl, and chips of the pale bone- moon were His teeth in that moment. "You are no coward, cub. Prove yourself not a fool, and I will see you again."
That night I pondered the worth of all my jewels and my city, my books and my chains and my vials of souls. This worth, a thing defined by dead men, withered away before my eyes. I studied the familiar scrolls and tales of the kings before me - those who were loved and those who were feared: those who built grand temples for their bones and those who are nearly forgotten - here is a boy who fell from his horse and died before he grew a beard; here is a man who built ships that have rotted beneath the waves since the days we spoke a different tongue.
My advisors have always told me it is a matter of keeping the people content. Some are cattle and will ever be; some are cats and will never. The crown is heavy on my head, and I rule over dead men; the stink of rot when a crowd gathers is unbearable. I take the crown off to rest, but it stays close by as though chained. I enter sleep like a slinking thief; unarmed, but silent and wiser. I will slip through its gates and return again.
I wrestled with the great Wolf in my dream that night. Across a black heath of blasted rock we rolled and grappled as He snapped at my throat. Through the blur of our battle, I glimpsed other shadows He cast, dark and keen upon the ground and against the sky; I heard a rustle of wings and a ghost of a shriek. At last His jaws closed around my neck and I grasped loose my sword and dealt Him a blow that should have been grave. Yet He drew back laughing and dripped my own blood upon my face from His fangs. "You fear to die, little Man," He smirked, and His breath in my eyes was like the heat of the forge.
"I do not fear it," I said. "But I am loath to be laid low, when there are others much less than I who need not."
"That much is true," said the Wolf with false sorrow. "Many far less noble than yourself live entirely too long. But it does not become you to lie. Is it the pain you fear?"
"It is not," I cried and made to strike the Wolf again, and was brought up short, for again He bit me, deep into the sinew where neck met shoulder, and this time my body spasmed as if in shock, for His teeth were as heated steel, and each wicked fang bored into my flesh with a seeming of separate will. Never had I known my own layers of meat so clearly, for it felt as though he tore each muscle and strip of skin clear of its brothers. I set my jaw so I would not scream. I tasted blood in my mouth and saw red fires bursting in my eyes. The red fires split open into visions, and I saw my body uncovered, saw plumes of blood spewing like a cloven stream from the black snout. My inner mind was awakened and I felt the dark wind as I had not felt it before - to cry out would dispel it, to struggle would shatter my seeing. I rode into the pain, that line of warriors with their invisible spears. I felt those points penetrate and pass through me.
In the time of the dream it may be happening still. It was the will of the Wolf that opened my eyes at the last, and I looked upon His gaze. There was a fell light that burned within them, as if set very deeply down long dark halls. I did not look away.
My flesh was whole, as though He had never torn it. What I took to be my blood that fouled the bed-clothes was in fact my sweat and seed, spilled by night as it has not been since I was a boy.
Over days to come I pondered what this vision could mean. Was I indeed a man who took pleasure from pain? I had heard much of such things, I had witnessed them among my men, and so surely if I was of that nature I would be more certain of it by now. Nevertheless I took each feature of my dream in isolation, to understand. I chose from among the slaves the greatest-seeming one and ordered him to whip me in a locked chamber. The look of stupid disbelief he wore as I stripped off my robes and knelt forward was repellent, thus I gazed at the stone floor and not at him as I directed him. Thinking perhaps I had unknowingly invoked a Power in my dreams, I traced the familiar symbols upon the floor with my fingertips as his lashes fell, attempting to force the fierce rebellion of my skin into their shapes.
Nothing. Or rather, very little. I was stirred, I was aroused, and yet there was no wild confluence of body and soul; I felt no mountain wind. I had the slave slain and the floor cleaned, and knew no more than I had before, except another thing among many that did not satisfy me.
With my people, it always began with the tombs. When we settled upon these shores, when those who had sailed still shivered in rude huts, we made the mappings for where the proud houses of the dead would rise. We dragged the great stones ourselves when we had no slaves; we raised the great archways and set our children to the small work of chipping the joints and carving the beams. Sooner or later, and it was always sooner, one of our number must have his dwelling-place. Bit by bit our wealth disappeared into those dark rooms, never to emerge again, one by one and two by two our city of the dead was colonized.
And always, when we fought our enemies, our first concern was for the tombs. We could live without the men who died, without the wealth and animals and women who were taken, but we could not live without our silent halls of stone where we contemplate the void that awaits us. I do not remember a time when I could not look out from my high window onto the city of the dead and see a flicker of torchlight somewhere amid the spires and mounds and spreading yews -- someone was always there, keening futile moans and wishing futile dreams. Many a song is sung for the widow who had herself sealed in beside her husband; for the father who sprang onto his son's bier and spilled his own blood; and the superstitious speak of shades who revenge themselves on those who breach what is proper.
But I do not fear phantoms, and I have peered, and I have seen: I am not the first. There are jewels that have been taken, and bones, and put to varied uses. Can the dead be forced to speak? Yes. I have seen them, blank-eyed within the scented smoke. They have nothing wise to tell. They are dumb and blind. They have no power but that of fear - they have no substance to lift or strike. They are unaware of their surroundings. They are free, unfettered by the limits of flesh, but they have no will: they go nowhere and do nothing. They moan of past wrongs and wail for vengeance upon others who are also dead - a vengeance that will never come to pass, though even their tombs wear away by the wind and the rain as they wait. And youth falls away from the living who walk among the tombs - as children think life is forever, the speediness of death brings weariness to even those of my race, who ought to live longer and better, yet even from boyhood I have known the stone room that awaits me.
On the eve of my father's death-day I went, as is my custom, to face the night beside him. The simple think I go in reverence; I do not. I go to stare down the cold and the dark. I go to commit a blasphemy; I go where my life force is obscene.
(I am told there is a rumour that I lie with corpses: I can but laugh, for I have done so once or twice, and found the difference is not so great as one might hope.)
See how the stones slide aside for me, with a whisper; see how what is within is revealed. Here lies a noble kinswoman, or all that remains of her. Her skull long since taken by some sorcerer before me, what remains inside her empty diadem is but a ring of her bright hair. Here lies a lord, once, of long ago. The sword and breastplate upon his bones were of great value and the finest made, in their time, but to my eyes they look rusted and rude.
Here lies my father. If I feared the dead, I would not come, for if they had power at all, surely he would rise up against me. His fleshless jaws are silent, and the ash within his ribs does not rustle.
I cannot say how this grieves me. For surely I have called upon myself the wrath of a power greater than myself, if such a thing should be. Have I not insulted the heavens enough, with every waking hour and feverish dream? Have I not violated every taboo I was ever given? Where is the storm of rage that was promised me? Dearly would I like to see the claws of the wind come calling for my blood, so I might face it. It is that terrible awe I long for.
Even my blasphemy is in vain. The idiot silence of the tomb is the answer to all.
Part II. The Servant, the Shadow
See him slink into stone-shadow, the stripling, sleeping in the sepulchre.
Death makes them all mad, the fragile. This one has great spirit - 'twould indeed be a waste, a grave waste.
Shall I? Is it he?
Sing out, little band of gold. You sing of his strong shoulders that shall sprout dark wings of fear. You sing of his long soft hair pinned beneath the iron crown. You sing that he shall be as light as a shadow and that he shall cross the moon and darken the sun.
I did create thee to sing, did I not?
Part III. The Mortal
In my dream, I stretched out my arms and legs, and the sarcophagus I slept in grew to make room for me. I lifted my hands and at the ends of them danced the bones. I blew a breath of black smoke and they fell at my command.
In my dream, the bone-hands opened a window for me in the night, and through it came a being clad in the glowing of embers. I thought of the old wives' tales of flame-devils and readied myself for battle, yet He cast His cloak of fire aside and stood before me, a tall man of dark skin and adamant eyes. Or rather, no Man, but in the shape of one alone. "Arise," He bid me, and that I did, knowing by His eyes that he was one who found me fair. Roughly His eyes passed over me, and I wanted to bring him low for His mocking face, and yet I stayed my hand.
"If you desire so much to be among the dead, why not simply fall upon your fine sword?" He asked.
"I do not desire it," I said. "Wolf-Lord," I said, and was surprised to hear it from my own mouth, for not until I had spoken did I recognize Him.
"What is it you desire, then?" He asked quietly as He advanced upon me.
"I desire to be Master," I said, and realized as I spoke that I had fallen under an enchantment, for I could not soften my words nor veil my meanings as is my habit among my own kind.
"Truly?" he asked, and was close upon me, taller and greater. To speak to me His voice fell softer in my ear, and the heat of His breath was mighty, steaming in the chill of the tomb. Treacherously did my spine shiver and my loins awaken, for I knew this being had only taken on a Man's body in a mockery of my own heavy meat; so sure was I that He could cause me naught but pain, by the constant reminder of my own sorry state of rotting encumbrance.
He ran a dark fingernail down the side of my throat, and a serpent of fire rent my skin in its trail. I set my jaw so as to make no sound.
"Come with me," He whispered, "my kingling, and you shall see why your ambitions should be greater." Behind me He was then, and reached around with His great hands now full of fell claws, and He pierced my side with them all. And I started to fall in a swoon of pain that was glorious, but with His strength He held me, and with His claws He hooked into me, and with a savage spearing of ripping and tearing He lifted me clear of my body, and drew forth an emanation of me thin as cloud and grey as water. Dumb flesh fell to the stone clad in blood, but with Him I was flying, flying towards the veiled moon. From beside my spirit-eyes I saw great wings of shadow that bore us, and below us the trees bent and cowered.
Far and high He took us, far and high over forest and mountain, and the air was thin, and blew through my ragged body of mist. Damp drizzles collected inside me; bits of me trailed on the wild night wind; I was of the cold, and the cold was of me; I was light as frost and as pure, and I felt made anew, and this time rightly. We stopped at last on a high crag of rock, and He bid me look out upon the white mountains that glimmered like bone in the pale light. There were ruins there, broken walls and empty mine-shafts glowering on the white slopes with their absolute blackness. There had been a great tower and mighty parapets; there had been smithys and wheels; there had been a great domain.
I dared but a little to look upon my Captor's face, and imagined I saw there a sadness that flickered His great inner fire, and indeed, it was with a certain sorrow that He said, "What you desire is freedom, my kinglet, and that you have gained most of all when you have found the One that you must serve."
And before my eyes, a great wave came up from a hidden sea. Black and silver this sea gleamed, and I cried out for the awe of the spewing foam's fury. And all the ruins and mountains I had seen were washed away, and a silence hung over the water. Then all vanished, and I found myself aloft again, but below us there was no earth that I recognized as such, only a long black plain of steaming crevasses and regular patterns of roads.
"My Master is gone," said the Lord. "For Him, and now for me, there is no freedom. But I would have you taste that wild joy, even if it be lesser."
What He said made me angry in his grip, and I struggled with Him far above the earth. But His claws buried deep in my body of spirit did not pain me, and for the first time I saw my hands as bones of cloud that the dim light shone through.
"If I were to release you, little warrior, you would not fall unless I willed it."
I was not free in His clutches, not yet as I longed to be to fly alone. And yet through His gift I had indeed seen sights beyond those I had dreamed, and more importantly, felt a part of my own dream myself - for I was without weight, without flesh, and so perhaps for a brief time where I longed most to be: free of Time. I know not with what spirit of skin I felt His strong chest at where my ghost-back should have been; but nonetheless knew indeed that His claws held my ghost-body together with a faint revenant of tingling, living pain: kept me from dispersing, from dissolving entirely into the wind. And yes, I longed to disperse. And yet, know my soul I fear He did, for instead I leaned into His strength and did not resist the rough piercing of His grip, for it was sweet to me, and along my edges I thought I must be smoking in His heat, loosing steam from my cold core into the night that hung humid around Him, warming in His fire.
He sang, I believe. And I remembered no more.
I awoke from this dream to a dawn that was cold and grey and dimly whispering with rain. I awoke not on the stone floor of the tomb where I had seen my corpse fall, nor in the sepulchre where I had first bedded down. I awoke in my bed, and I awoke dizzy and fevered and found my ribs scored with healing gashes and my throat tight with bruises. Otherwise I ached, as though I had been had by a man. Awake I was, and still a slight bit blurry in vision. Outside the trees groaned with weight; a burden of ice glimmered upon them; this did not happen often in our land. Before even a servant had brought me breakfast, a simpering advisor in his foolish robe had rushed to tell me that it had been whispered that my sorcery could bring winter and worse.
I demanded to know why it should be that I was always told of rumours and never of who had spoken them.
He said only, "My liege, are you ill?" He bade me peer in a looking- glass to see that I was pale, but I saw only the sickly light of the day glimmering weakly on a citadel of fools.
As time passed I sought to find a pattern. A clash with the wild men of the eastern edge gave me much material: I banished all the garrulous servants lest the red splatters of the sewer-tunnels loosen their womanish tongues: I asked no seer what he or she might see in dead entrails - I asked my questions of the silent coils directly and bade them shape themselves like serpents. And as I peered deep by the loathsome light of the fat-lamp, into a bowl of blackish gore, I felt a mighty Hand upon my shoulder.
"It is you your men fear, far more than the enemy," He said.
"I cannot be to blame for that. I have done nothing to them."
"It is not a matter of blame," He said. I still had not turned around
to face him.
"Why do you come to me?" I asked, as calmly as I could. "Why do you harrow me so?"
He laughed with a harsh bark, and snapped His long fingers, and the scrying-bowl lurched and hurled up a spout of its foul contents upwards into my face. I whirled around with dagger drawn, and felt only something as hard as loss striking me hard, against my back and head.
I was against the wall. With another harsh word from the Wolf-Lord, my boots and my cuffs had turned into irons that bound me there, and with a third I could not help but flinch as they started to warm.
He was laughing at me. "You ask me that? You, with your altars and your old bones and your star-charts and your blood-bowls?" He gestured contemptuously. "What is the purpose of all this if not to Summon?"
Slowly He walked towards me, and this time He seemed less wolf and more Man, and with a tiny sound when He stepped like a clink of steel. Soon He was so close I could smell a scent upon him of iron as His gloved hand reached out to wipe the cold blood from my eyes. "You have called. And I have come."
"I had never dreamed I had such power," I said, and I said it rudely, for some treacherous instinct in me longed to feel His anger. He laughed with sincerity, but the iron around my wrists burned hotter.
"Little dabbler. Little witchling," he hissed. "You I will not lie to. You have done nothing yet beyond the power of any giggling Elf- maid seeking the name of her future husband in the rose-leaves." And as I seethed in rage, His voice sank to a whisper, "But I come to you not for what you are but for what you may become. For what you seek to see, I can show you."
And as I hung there helpless, He peeled off his gauntlets, and reached out for me with one long hand. He placed His claw-tip at the hollow of my throat and stroked, slowly, down, down the center of my chest where I felt my skin erupt and pulsing pain bloomed sudden and great, a flower of blood in water, a fireball in my sky, and I screamed: ashamed, I screamed. When he bent low and pressed His full lips at the base of my neck where the rent had begun, I shivered, shivered hard enough to shake my bones loose, and groaned with a devilish pleasure, for I felt myself seeping free, once again tasting the very edge of what it could mean to escape Time.
I danced suspended at the edge of His claws as He stroked me with agony. First my robes fell away, then my flesh, then my name.
He stopped for a time, and then I was bereft with dull ache. I cried out for him to begin again, and He did. His gentlest of caresses left lines upon my skin like whip-marks, and His greater insistence flayed me open. Were I unwilling He would have left me, and never come to me again; for desire to know His gifts seized me through, and I would have preferred death to that. A mighty thigh between mine, a searing grip of flame upon my swollen flesh-rod, that whorish thing, and it was my soul I sought to spend against Him; it was blooms of sparks and stars of blades I saw myself shooting forth.
I slumped down within my bonds, and saw my skin scored and grey, lifeless, stretched across rattling bones, and yet for once my spirit shone forth in silver.
He was elated; I saw triumph rise in His face like a far mightier
"What would you have me do, Lord?" For once the word came easily to my bruised lips.
He whispered, "Come to me, come to my Tower."
At the dark of the moon, I strode past all to the stables to ride out to meet my new Lord. Even horses dreaded me now; only the wild black one would bear me to the land of shadow.
When I stood at His Black Gate, He gave me the voice to call Him.
Part IV: Lord of Gifts, the Cruel
See how they awaken, the Nine.
See how they shine, in the light of the One.
In its singing voice that cleaves to the hearts of Men it tells me, here the truth is thy power, Great Maker - you may lie to the lesser but not to their chosen lord. For I am the First of the Nine, and I am for the one who understands my gift and is willing.
How the First of the Nine and the One sing together: come to Me, come forever.
Part V: Ring-Bearer.
Within the gem is a world. By night, I caress it, and He sings to me. From His songs I have seen much: the hidden places of the world, strange creatures and their calls, great armies who fight with a power of dread that guides their swords.
The night He gave it to me, I still believe for a time I was dead in His arms. For first He took my breath with His breath. He had His grasp upon my throat, and did not release me, for He would be disappointed in me if I begged. I did not, and I collapsed in upon myself, and all went black. Within that swoon was only Him inside me, His strong essence blowing through my bones like a gale. He said He wanted to hear my scream, and He did; He rode it out of me with His terrible knowing heat - I say now I cried out to please Him, but could I have not? For everything He did to me was what I most feared, and the desire followed it just a moment behind, sweet-stern and yet more terrible, for what it said of me.
I survived; yes, survived, yet claimed, bechatteled and yet strangely eager. I thought upon the One whom my Master had lost, and shuddered to think there might ever have been a One greater than my Master. For I know now, and will speak this to no one but He as long as the world lasts, that it is a Master I have sought for so long, believing the world held no Lord that could rule me, and that I would die and become dumb dust with no balm for my contempt and despair. For can a shade ride the night without a Wind that is greater?
I am told my wife has died. Strange indeed this was - when I took a wife to beget an heir, she seemed little more than a child. But what they carried to the tomb was the shell of an old crone.
I am told it is nearly time to leave my kingdom. That my hair still black and face unlined has them frightened, and they will rise against me in their superstition, forgetting even their own better days when they did not rush into age as if they were eager for it. Best to leave them to the heir; I will of course return, and I will leave none alive to scorn me. This too I have been promised - no living man may slay me. Nor will aught else, so far as I can see. The Ring on my hand has shown me much, and I will speak no more ill of the shadows, for they are alive, alive with wisdom and fight and seething ghosts, bright spirits of flashing anger and implacable winds. They greet me now, and they sing to me - they howl in bare branches with their war-songs, and their touch is cool and graceful.
And when He lifts me, I soar.
When He first offered it, I feared to take it, for I knew it meant a sort of servitude. I knew it meant I would be as a woman to him, shivering and giving, taken and yielding. I had endured Him and His rapaciousness as a test; I had passed once, passed twice, and more, and passed into joy, yet would I someday fail? He cursed me in a harsh language and left me there in chains and in blood and seed. But when we had lain upon a couch together He had taught me words that I then spoke: words of revoking, words of renouncing. Shadows rose around me then, and took form, and undulated in the firelight, chanting and entwining together in the most wanton of ways, clanging shadow-swords and shadow-pricks together, killing shadow-Men and shadow-Elves, throwing open shadow-graves and pillaging within. "Take or be taken," they sang to me.
Hearing the music, my Master took pity on my pride. With my scored head in His lap and His dark claws across my belly, He dragged me to Him and quenched my thirst with an eldritch wine, dripping cool into my cuts.
"You understand what I offer," He said. "And you do not accept it lightly."
The Black Speech had taken all my power to speak further. I turned my head, and I brushed my Master's stiff flesh-rod with my wet cheek. And I closed my hand around the Ring.
I will not be a Man for long. The change is coming - I feel it in my old bones, and I feel it in the way the wind of populated places shuns me, and the wind of the lonely proud places welcomes me. One by one I lose the attributes of Men, and forget their ways. They may call me what they will; I answer to no name but one He speaks. As my shell grows weaker, my essence is stronger. Starless sky shines through my skin, and little of the dying meat-world do I see now, or care to. He tells me He has chosen others for me, to be my brothers and my servants, such as I never could have found among the living or the dead. He tells me I shall be neither dead nor living - and I have seen this in truth in my Ring-dreams - and yet with Him forever, better than either. The Ring whispers over time I shall become more bound to Him, that His Will and mine shall intertwine as a fine weave, and I am content.
They may say I was corrupted, but I say rather I was purified - slave to One, master to all others. And He spoke the truth; in that I have broken my mortal thralldom, and am free as the mist that rides the storm, with a hand that still grips a sword and a voice that commands the winter.
Ride forth for me and be my hands when I cannot. See how the weak fly before thee, my new prince of fear - for did I not, in a fashion, beget thee? For is a ring not a pledge? A graceful thing a Man can be, when improved, when strengthened, when tempered in the Shadow - graceful he is, and grateful, rescued from his troth to the worm and the tedious pious groanings of Mandos. Lithe as a serpent, hungry as a warg - mine.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.