1. Bindings of Gold
There was never a question of refusing his gift. Nor of refusing the power that came with that gift, raising me to be great among men, even above other kings. Nine rings he said he had made for the men of Middle-earth, and to me he gave the greatest, and I preened myself on his approval. I could not then see beyond preserving and extending my kingdom.
Whatever sorcery and craft I had found for myself, it was a pittance. My power was as a simple wandering stream that bears away leaves and thin branches, compared to the mighty Rauros-falls of the ring; a cataract of power that swept away anything in its path unless it was anchored in the very bones of the land.
When I beheld the glitter on my finger, and felt the strength flow through my flesh to dazzle those about me, I knew myself fortunate to become so mighty among men. I chanced now and again to consider how I came to be chosen for this gift. Was it my valor, my wisdom, or my noble Númenorean origin that made me worthy?
Now I know I was worthy because I was weak, young, and easily deceived. My unwillingness to accept less than I had promised myself was my greatest recommendation to the lord of the hidden darkness. So I chose, and was chosen, and have become great among those who walk into the shadow. I am highest of the servants of Sauron: King of Wraiths. I have held kingdoms under his tutelage, as I desired when he first beckoned to me. It matters not now what a foolish young man thought an age ago.
From the moment I beheld the ring in the Dark Lord's hand, there was no escape.
Now, I cannot imagine that I ever considered escape. Yet I know there were times I both loved and cursed the source of my power; the ring, and the dark lord revealed at last as the giver. And at that I was fortunate, powerful and feared by others. My fate could have been that of Celebrimbor; tormented, shamed, killed. He lived to see his lifework turned to the service of his bitterest enemy, his craft the cause of the downfall of his land and kin. Weakling smith, lover of dwarves!
Yet Celebrimbor was allowed to pass to Mandos' halls, and I, even after centuries of service, am held to Arda and the will of another whether I wish to live or die. Ironic is it not? Here am I a man, who survived long ages despite the Gift of Ilúvatar; only to envy a dead Elf. How different would my fate be had I accepted the Gift of Ilúvatar, rather than the Gift of Annatar?
In the early days we had common purpose, and his will lay lightly over mine. It is long since his hand has become heavy, and his care for me less, my purpose a tiny shadow hidden within his looming darkness. Perhaps I could have loved, married, sired children; there would have been a line of kings from my loins. But Sauron was a jealous master. All strength, ambition, love and lust were his; harvested from his servants, we who sold ourselves for long life and power. Power! Now I have not the power to do aught but his bidding.
Sometimes, though rarely, I think of peace and rest, and know I shall have neither while Sauron's spirit inhabits Arda.
Will I ever suffer the Gift of Ilúvatar? One of the wretched Elves has foretold that I will. I do not know if I fear it, or desire it. But if I were to pass to the Halls of Mandos, what welcome would there be for such as I? All whom I knew - family, friends, and subjects - feared my very name by the end.
Perhaps I should fear it myself, were I sane as I once defined it. I am not, I will never be. And I shall wear the blood of my enemies proudly to the end of my days.
It is too late to do anything else.
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.