31. Úmarth en Aran Morgul
Chapter Written by Angmar
The Living Incarnation of the Mind of Sauron knew that the prime Motivator of his conscious thought was seething with all the fury of the flaming, rippling heat of Mount Orodruin. The Lieutenant's mortal essence trembled in fear at the closeness of such suppressed wrath. All his future, his plans, his hopes, his very life, were all intricately woven and connected with the fate of the Spirit of Fire. The sobering implications of failure were too monstrous to consider for any length of time. Though there had been monumental disappointments, his Master would not ultimately fail and would at last be triumphant over those opponents whose minds ever turned backward when He wished to go forward to new and better things.
"He is the embodiment of the power of creation," the Lieutenant of Barad-dûr thought. "He is the channeled Essence of the energy of Arda, the might of His spirit burning as a pure and holy Flame. He is the All!" The Mouth was awe-stricken with rapture and wonder, and his body trembled with the intensity of his ecstasy. "Even though He would slay me, yet would I adore Him!"
Annatar sat upon His throne of black adamant and lamented, His mind troubled in deep sadness. "This day has been a grievous one. I have spent long hours in torment. Now I am forced to deal with those who have failed Me most. My Heart aches in sorrow for what I must do."
"Can any mortal know the full meaning, the unbearable convulsions of the soul of godhood, of a Being Who can never die, but plunge only deeper into a slough of despair!" The Mouth felt his soul crushed at the great mourning of his Master. "What anguish He must feel! How He must be suffering! If only I could bear it for Him," the Lieutenant thought pityingly, and felt an all-encompassing devotion for his Lord. How lofty was his Master, the Mouth mused, to hide His pain beneath a calm exterior. His heart swelled in joy and pride as he admired his Lord's majesty and strength.
"O Great Divinity, they must pay for what they have done to You!" the Mouth cried out. "They cannot know the depths of suffering to which Your essence has plunged! No one can ever begin to feel even a tiny fraction of such divine affliction!"
"They will pay. They must pay," the Dark Lord moaned and bowed His head in sorrow. "Though it grieves Me unbearably to do this, it is the only thing I can do."
"Enemies surround You, encompass and encircle You upon every side. How it must grieve You even to consider sedition among those who are the closest," the Mouth sympathized. "Always those most trusted prove the most false-hearted." The Lieutenant was close to tears as he sensed the great Mind in Its agony.
Sauron knew that the Lieutenant actually relished what would befall all those who had offended the Dark Lord, and He was pleased with His servant. Though the Mouth was only an imitation of Himself, the sniveling wretch was a convenient echo-chamber of his Master's thought.
The Mouth was not without blemish and flaw, though. His depraved cravings of the flesh both disgusted and amused his Master. Powers were above such perversities, but Sauron understood well the weaknesses of man, and how to utilize them to the fullest. The Mouth was of inestimable value as His Spokesman, and for this, Sauron would allow him a great span of life for his fidelity.
"How it must hurt You, grieve You beyond endurance, O Great One, but they have given You no other alternatives," the Lieutenant said sadly. "You must do what You must. I know how it will bring You the greatest of all pain to punish Your Nine sons. However, there is no alternative, for there is no other conclusion. They have failed You in the past and they continue to do so in the present! There was no enthusiasm amongst any of them when You set them upon the quest for the Ring! Though they might plead incompetency, there was no way that they could not have obtained the Ring had it been their will!"
Though the Mouth was verging on the eloquence of a barrister in arguing for the guilt of a felon, the Dark Lord needed no persuasion. The guilt of the Nine was rampant.
"I hesitate to make this allegation, but they have proved traitors in all their ways! Though in Your leniency, You will recoil from administering the most extreme of punishments, for You are the Shining Light of All Arda! You alone point the way!" the Lieutenant simpered. "The great must do what they must!"
The Spokesman of Sauron hesitated before he posited his question, but he was almost salivating in his lust for vindication. "What will You do to them?" the Mouth asked eagerly, trying to restrain an outward expression of his glee.
"Do not be so eager, Lieutenant, to know of My will. I will deal with them, both with compassion and with justice." Sauron's words were a rebuke, harsh though gentle in speech.
The Mouth took his chastisement philosophically, stoically. "Yes, my Lord, only You can deal with them righteously," he repeated in awe-stricken rote.
Gorthaur looked up, his face a contorted mask of sorrow. "First, those army officers of the high rank, the worst offenders, will be brought before Me. With them shall come each member of their households, from their wives and their children to the lowest of their servants. Each one of them will be tortured slowly before My worthless generals and then slain in front of their eyes. Then the generals' own eyes will be burnt out with hot irons, and they will be tortured in the most excruciating of ways.
"When they can scream no longer and their tongues cleave to the roofs of their mouths in thirst and their lips crack and split asunder, then their tongues shall be ripped away, bathing their mouths in the balm of their own blood. At last they will be executed and their bodies hacked to pieces in My presence. Then, with My own Hands, I will feed their flesh to the latest hatchlings of My fell beasts. This is the price of failure."
"Righteous, my Lord! O Righteous Deity!" Overcome with emotion, the Lieutenant fell to his knees in front of his chair and groveled, kissing the floor.
"Let the others learn from this example of their superiors!" Sauron boomed.
"And what of the others, Lord?" the Mouth panted from his kneeling position on the floor.
"Those of lesser rank shall merely be tortured in prolonged and delightful ways and at last be executed."
"O how exalted in all Thy ways art Thou, Lord of Middle-earth!"
"Rise to your feet, Lieutenant and return to your seat. There is more."
As he stood, the Mouth smoothed his dark robes of state and rearranged the golden circlet upon his head. He adjusted the large medallion which hung from a golden chain about his neck and touched it with a sense of awe, for it was a gift from his Master. He smiled weakly and almost swooned, overcome with a religious fervor.
His lower lip had been cut when he had fallen to the floor, and a trickle of blood ran down his chin. He slowly licked the blood from his perfect mouth with its gleaming set of pearly teeth. He enjoyed the sweet taste of blood, whether it be his own or that of others. Reaching into into his left sleeve, he pulled out a plain black handkerchief and wiped away the blood from his beardless face and then sat down.
The Lieutenant was a stately man in looks and bearing, and the women found him quite handsome, even irresistible, with his finely chiseled features, raven black hair and flashing grey eyes. But he was exceedingly vain and proud of his fair appearance. Though he was cruel and unforgiving, stern at times, he was nothing before his Master.
As he sat down, the Lieutenant began to breathe harder, his heart racing and his hands beginning to tremble. "How unique and limitless are the tortures of my Master," the Mouth thought, "protracted, slow, and luxuriously wrought. Torture most cunning and cruel as only the Master of Torment could devise." He was pleased that he had the honor and privilege to be tutored under such greatness.
"Aye, my Lieutenant, even you would be pleased with what I have planned."
The Mouth's lip had begun to bleed again, and he licked off the fresh flow from his lips. Suddenly, he felt exhilarated at the metallic taste of his own blood.
"For your edification and instruction, Lieutenant, I shall reveal to you some of the details of what I have planned. First the Morgul Lord will receive the Chastisement of Guilt, Shame and Pain, and only he could tell you of its benefits upon the soul..."
The Mouth's face lit up. He would enjoy Angmar's torment greatly, and he hoped, prayed, that he would be allowed to watch and relish every shrieking wail of pain and humiliation. Disappointment had already began to seep into his heart, though, for he knew that Sauron reserved that dark pleasure for Himself alone.
"...After he has learned from that, he will be with Me for a long time. The others will be appropriately rebuked and disciplined and abide with Me for a while."
"Great will be his punishment and his instruction," the Mouth cackled joyfully.
"My Lieutenant, that is only the beginning!" Sauron threw back His head and laughed, and the walls shook and the glittering gems danced in the light of the fires and torches.
The Mouth echoed His mirth, as he always did, a mortal reflection, an imitation, a parody of the Divine.
"To satisfy My righteous anger, I will take away his Ring," Sauron explained to the Mouth. "The only reason I allowed him to have it once again was to possess the power of the Ring in prosecuting My war to its full extent. Since he has dishonored his Ring, he is no longer worthy to wear it. Denied his Ring, he will consider it a great punishment, for though he hates his Ring, he loves it, too. How he will pine for it, like a lover who loses his beloved!"
The Dark Lord thought of His Own anguish during the long years when His Ring was lost. A slow smile uncoiled over His face as He thought of the Witch-king's agony at being inflicted with the same kind of pain that He had been forced to bear. The wound would sting so much the more bitterly since the Nazgûl King had been given the privilege of holding his Ring only a short time ago!
"O Splendid and Divine Master --- and then? What other delights of shame and agony have You planned? I pray that You tell this worthless worm more!" Almost overcome with joy in considering the delicious punishments which his Master would inflict upon his old nemesis, the Mouth felt a tingling in his lower regions. With a great feat of will, he managed to stifle the urge to release his bladder. He gripped the arms of his chair in anticipation of Sauron's next words, almost breaking one of his carefully manicured fingernails in the process.
"More!" Sauron's mood turned petulant and His fiery eyes raked over His groveling sycophant. "More!" He thundered, the terrible explosion of his voice sending the Mouth once again to the floor in a trembling heap. "How dare an inconsequential mortal have the audacity to hurry Me! With only a thought, I could send you hurtling across the room and through the Window of the Eye, to fall to your death on the rocks below! Men do not press a god for 'More!' Wretch, you forget that I helped create this world!"
"O Great Deity of Deities, Infinity of Infinities -- O Great Eye That Sees All -- have mercy upon this lowly slug who wallows in his own filth and revels in it! I am not fit to lick the sole of your boots! Whip me, Master! I beg You! Drive my folly far from me! Let me feel the scourging fail of the rod of punishment across my trembling form! Anything -- only allow Your pathetic servant - who lives for the sublime joy of serving You - to remain in Your divine presence!"
The Mouth's humble petition seemed to mollify the Dark Lord, for the raging inferno of His eyes dulled to mere embers as His powerful muscles relaxed and He leaned back upon His throne. "You toad, you do not deserve to feel My lash upon your worthless body! You are a canker and a leech which feeds upon My goodwill! Still, in My great benevolence and compassion, I will graciously extend My forgiveness to you, and will deign to tell you the full scope of My designs. Take your seat once again." Holding His hands extended before Him, He pressed His fingers together and looked across them down at the cowering mortal before Him.
"While the Witch-king serves his term of imprisonment, I will restore his memory fully to him. This doom I will inflict upon not only him, but the rest of the Nine. They will recall, with dreadful pain and clarity, the lives which they once led. They will remember the rays of the sun, the color and scent of flowers, the green blades of grass, the singing of birds, the sound of water, and the stirring of gentle breezes - each particular of every day that was significant to them. The three of Númenor will remember a land which was and a glorious past to which they can never return.
"They will be plagued with visions, hallucinations and phantasmagoria. They will see the past as though it were happening all over again, and they will be convinced that they have returned in time to their darkest hours. All they see and feel will be real to them. A thousand agonies they will know. They will relive every painful moment of their lives - every disappointment, every betrayal, every lie, every hurt, every death, every grief, every strife - with a fresh and raw newness. They will feel the sorrow of watching all those close to them - their fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, kinsmen, kinswomen, lovers, wives, children, and friends - die over and over again, whether by succumbing to the slow, unyielding blight of old age or by war and blood.
"Always will the Nine be left behind, never to join those most dear to them in death, that surcease of all sorrows. In My kindness, I have withheld these memories from them, for they would haunt them, obsess them, until they consumed all their thoughts. Some men go mad when but one person dear to them perishes. The Nazgûl have seen many deaths, and know much pain and sorrow. They will experience the darkest days of their lives as though they were happening that very moment! Soon all of them will be upon their knees before Me, begging the Lord of Mercy to assuage their agonies beneath the soothing cloud of forgetfulness!"
The Dark Lord rose to His feet, His form that of a man, though taller than any. He did not attempt to deceive Himself that His features were anything other than what they were - a blackened visage terrible to behold, eyes gleaming with a shadowy fire of pure spite and malice. He walked to the window facing the fiery mountain and turned His back to the Lieutenant as He looked out.
The Lieutenant was almost beside himself in joy, for he understood now how truly wroth Sauron was with Angmar. He could not contain himself any longer and began to rise to his feet. "I hate the Nine, especially the Witch-king!" the Mouth thought wildly. "He would be my undoing and take all that I have been promised! He deserves this grinding punishment, administered slowly, bit by bit, drop by drop like the Torment of the Dripping Water!"
The Lieutenant was intensely jealous of the position that Angmar held in the Eyes of the Master. Though there had never been any outward indication of this, the Lieutenant was convinced that the Morgul Lord had been plotting against him for years. The Mouth's heightened arcane senses had often felt an aura of darkness creeping over him, looking for a weakness which could be used to strip him of his power. He was certain that the Nine often went up in their tower, chanting their dark imprecations and casting evil spells upon him. Sometimes in dreams, all Nine would hover in a circle about his bed, intoning spells in a language which even he could not understand. Clad in hooded robes of darkest night, eight of them would swing censors around his supine form while the Witch-king held aloft a gleaming dagger. The knife, which the King held in both hands, was poised over his heart, and then down it would plunge. The Mouth always awoke from these nightmares screaming, his sweat drenching the bed sheets.
Now, at last, his rival, the Morgul Lord, would get his comeuppance!
"O Spirit of Fire, O Beacon of Light, the Nine have earned Your wrath!" the Lieutenant cried in rapture. "Let them receive Your just punishment!"
"Restrain your jubilation, My Lieutenant. Never consider yourself too high to be punished. Remember the cost of failure." There was warning in those words spoken calmly, benevolently. Though His wrath was great against the Nine, still they were the favorites among all his servants. Were they not the creations of His own will, and as such worthy of favor, even a sort of twisted, controlling affection?
"Yes, O Great One," the Mouth simpered, his face blanching as he slumped back into his chair.
As the Dark Lord strode forward, the Mouth was instantly on the floor, groveling, prostrating himself before Him. "Utterly despicable," Sauron thought as He stepped over the Lieutenant with not a glance down at the fawning, prone figure. The door slid closed behind Him and the Lieutenant was left alone, still groveling on the floor.
After this disappointing day, Gorthaur determined that He must find some form of amusement that would take His great Mind off the troubles of the world. Perhaps, under pretext of dire urgency, He would call the Mouth to attend Him in His hall long before Arien cast her weakened beams into the Dark Lands. The Flame smiled, mildly amused at the concept. Through His almost omniscient power of intuition, He could ascertain when the Lieutenant and his mistress would be locked in a frenzied union of the flesh. Only moments before the Mouth was about to release his seed, Sauron would cast a spell of weakness upon him that would instantly render him flaccid. Then the Dark Lord would summon His Lieutenant at that most inopportune time. Frustrated, his loins aching, the Mouth would be forced to leave his chambers and meet with his Master.
The embarrassed Lieutenant, words of entreating apology upon his lips, would rush into the hall, reeking of the warm scent of musk and love and his mistress' flowery perfume. Sauron would laugh secretly at his abashed plight and carnal weaknesses, while rebuking him with stern words for his woeful lack of punctuality. To add to the Mouth's discomfiture, the "matter of grave importance" would prove to be some trifling inconsequence of little interest to anyone, such as the vast plumbing network which lay beneath the Barad-dûr. Great Gods could afford to be petty, and even impish at times, if they so desired.
Gorthaur the Cruel was in need of comfort Himself that evening. While nothing save the Ring could completely ease His pain, there were a few who could help Him forget, at least for a while, while joining with Him in the pleasures of the corporeal world.
"Úmarth en Aran Morgul" - Doom of the Morgul King, Sindarin
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