4. Fytte the Fourth
The Lord Sauron seemed greatly happier now that his ring had been recovered. He was observed to pause frequently at mirrors and puddles in order to admire his new, manly form. Overnight, he agreed to the Orcs' longstanding requests for employee dental plans and a day nursery. And he spent a night in conference with the Ten and other of his faithful captains, looking over his old Three Thousand Year Plan for the domination of all life and condensing it into six months.
Now able to leave the fortress where he had so long lurked, embarrassingly bodiless, Sauron elected to make his presence felt once more in the strongholds of Mordor. The Nazgûl had there maintained a skeleton administration during his exile, but without the master's touch, things had inevitably slackened. Servitors took advantage to stretch out their lunch breaks, and the Nazgûl were very inefficient at forwarding mail. The Dark Lord intended to restore proper discipline, as well as to enjoy again his rightful throne at Barad-dûr.
The greater part of the Ten accompanied their liege to Mordor, yet Úlairiel and #5, being wed yet but a handful of days, were permitted to linger at Dol Guldur and follow at their leisure. Left alone, save for a few attendants, they savoured a private honeymoon. It was an idyllic interval of love. The moon rose at night on their tender awakenings, curled close together on the throw rugs of Úlairiel's chamber or the filmy stones of her husband's. After a light, trans-planar breakfast (for Ringwraith croissants, like their bodies, exist most fully in the twilight realm), they donned their robes and passed the nights according to their mutual desire.
Sometimes they explored the fortress, swapping bets with the dungeon guards or playing hide-and-seek among the pillars of the great hall. At other times, Úlairiel would take a bath in the castle cistern while #5 tenderly rasped her back. More often, they rode out into the forest. Close by the fortress were any number of dark, rustling arbours overhung by writhen trees, which made enchanting picnic spots. Úlairiel loved to lie with her beloved beneath the leaves, listening to birds and squirrels fleeing at the sound of his potent voice. His lambent eyes through the blackness were like to twin lodestars guiding her spirit.
But their favourite recreation was to soar side by side upon their aerial steeds, pacing the shrieking winds as the grey forest slipped by beneath them. On the fifth night of their honeymoon, they embarked upon a particularly adventurous ride. It was a clear night. The air above the treetops was cold and bracing. The great beasts beat their wings tirelessly, refreshing themselves by catching eagles in midair. Úlairiel stole many secret glances at her love as they flew, her breath hitching at the sight of his armoured thews gripping the pterodactyl's hide. #5, in turn, was dazzled as the flag of her hair swept this way and that, mithril-coloured in the moonlight.
Below, nothing stirred. Úlairiel commented on the tranquillity of the forest, and #5 assured her that sssuch was only a pale ssshadow of the blessssings to come under Lord Sssauron's New Mordorian Democrasssy.
"Rayssse you!" he called suddenly, and speeded ahead.
Úlairiel laughed, like a carillon of mithril bells, and spurred her mount. "Noro lim, Teri, noro lim!"
They were flying westward, the forest rapidly thinning as the mounts attained terminal velocity. Úlairiel's hands moved on the reins with exquisite skill. After only a few seconds, she drew near to the shoulder of #5's pterodactyl. They playfully wrestled for the lead.
The bushy scrubland that bordered the forest was only a blur below. Ahead, the Anduin skulked like black treacle at the bottom of its shadowed valley.
An apt endearment in the Black Speech produced a spurt of extra effort from Úlairiel's steed, and she edged in front of her husband. The other steed faltered, dropping fifty feet, as the coruscating mass of Úlairiel's hair was blown back into its eyes. #5 swiftly regained control and pursued her, hissing delicious threats that travelled on the wind to her thrilled ears. A long way beneath them, two diminutive figures on the riverbank witnessed the chase, and decided then and there to give up fishing and go home to their grandmother.
On the far side of the river was rising ground covered with trees. These trees were tall and mighty, requiring greater altitude from an airborne voyager. Úlairiel performed some mental calculations, forgot to carry the three, tugged on the reins and collided with a branch, which broke. There was a loud crack, and a shiver ran through the stand of trees. Úlairiel clucked her tongue in annoyance. She corrected her course and turned in the saddle to watch the progress of her beloved. And then there came a familiar sound, like a seam in the sky tearing, and a white-feathered arrow appeared in her pterodactyl's neck.
"Bother!" said Úlairiel.
The valiant creature's wings flailed for a brief instant, then sank to its sides. With impressive inevitability, Úlairiel and Terion plummeted earthward.
Úlairiel felt most strange. Numerous of her corporeal parts ached, yet a deep, tingling power was within her. She opened one eye and saw her hand, lying on the turf beside her head. The stone of her ring was glowing bright blue, indicating extreme vitality and perkiness.
There were voices above her.
"At times you are too hasty to draw, brother."
"Never did I expect such a thing," the second responded. "Can she – can she be whom I think?"
"A damsel of such beauty, who falls from the sky, must surely be the Lady Elwing," said the first. "And when Imladris declares war on us, I shall make it clear that it was you that shot her."
"I fear it is yet worse," said the second, his voice trembling. "See how radiant is her visage, and how her hair shines more golden even than the tresses of our mistress. She must surely be the glorious Arien."
"You felled the Sun. Oh, well done, Rumíl."
"I did not mean to!"
"I do not wish to return to the years of Starlight! We have grown beyond that as a culture!"
Úlairiel, feeling increasingly formidable, thought that it was time to make her presence felt. She sat up and drew her dagger from its sheath in one liquid movement. Brandishing the weapon high, she locked eyes with her opponents.
The Elven border guards found themselves confronted by a gaze that was, against all probabilities, red. They took a step backwards as Úlairiel produced a ladylike rapier to join the dagger. A sound like escaping lava came from deep within her throat.
"You are within the bounds of – " began the one who was not called Rumíl.
Úlairiel's sword sliced his bowstring into thirds.
The pair beat a strategic retreat into the undergrowth.
Úlairiel paced the small clearing in which she found herself, leaving patches of desiccated grass in the shapes of her delicate feet. There was no sign of Terion; nor did she know where her beloved's flight might have ended. She knew that he would be close by, however. While she had little to fear from the forest or its Elves, #5, made simple by love, would have nonetheless lingered in the hope of discovering and aiding her.
Úlairiel straightened her robes and set off along a likely looking path. Her aches were fading rapidly. She barely noticed snails hurrying out of her way, and fallen leaves turning black wherever she brushed against them. She would march into Caras Galadhon, pick up some more fairy lights, and then hasten to reunite with her beloved. By good chance, he would still be furnished with his own mount. Being unhorsed was a recognized occupational hazard for a Ringwraith, but one simply had to get right back on.
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.