1. The Tower
And as the Captains gazed south to the Land of Mordor, it seemed to them that, black against the pall of cloud, there rose a huge shape of shadow, impenetrable, lightning-crowned, filling all the sky. Enormous it reared above the world, and stretched out towards them a vast threatening hand, terrible but impotent: for even as it leaned over them, a great wind took it, and it was all blown away, and passed; and then a hush fell.
The Field of Cormallen, Return of the King
His Ring had cried out to him unexpectedly when it was claimed by a creature so insignificant that he could have crushed out its life with his four-fingered hand.
His rage turning to fear, he forsook all other designs and sent his Wraiths flying toward Orodruin.
His heart exploded along with the Ring, the Wraiths, and Orodruin itself.
His power failed, the Ring having taken the greater portion with it into dissolution. The strategy of safeguarding his power by pouring much of it into his golden master-work now betrayed him.
His mortal form, kept alive all these years since his last death, collapsed. The walls of Barad-dûr shook; and the orcs and other minions screamed. He grasped the fading threads of his consciousness, trying to restore order, to no avail. The center would not hold!
His houseless soul watched the black-crowned body he had worn drop through the shattering floor. For Barad-dûr was falling! First his turreted central tower, highest in all of Middle-earth, then the other towers and steel-walled fortresses and courts, all slid down to the ground in a storm of dust and rubble.
His will, all that was left to him, bore him up into the darkened sky. He looked down on the fragments of Barad-dûr and howled out his rage in thunder. He prepared to cast down his wrath upon his enemies.
His hand's semblance faded between the darkness and the intruding light. He could no longer scourge mortals, nor even defend what was left of his own self. He could do naught, no more, nothing! A new form could not shield him now; he had lost the power to enter one. When Manwë's cursed wind sprang up and seized him, he had no way to fight it.
His spirit flailed helplessly as he was borne away. He looked his last on his scattering armies and the smoldering mountain. Sand and smoke hissed round his broken, fallen tower.
His rage, his bitterness, his fear and his hatred streamed out of him somewhere along the Straight Road. The stars wheeled high above him, the waves roiled beneath him, until he had passed beyond the Deeps of Time. He heard the Voice of the One summon him by his most ancient name. He remembered the resonance of that Voice, which had once poured forth the songs of creation. And the notes that had once been his in the Great Music arose in his heart, as the only greeting he yet had strength to make.
His wearied self, bereft of form and malice, fell before Ilúvatar's throne. The being who had been Sauron returned to the hands of his maker, transfixed in the all-seeing gaze of Eru. The Flame Imperishable and the cold Void, Light and Dark alike, mingled in Ilúvatar's eyes.
"What fate would you seek, Son of my Thought?"
He scorned the path of deception. He would not beg; which left only one response: "As Thou wilt."
"Then stand and face Judgment, Mairon. Thou shall be remade!"
The lore-masters of Middle-earth tell many tales of Sauron's fate. Some say that he shared the imprisonment of his former master in the Void beyond the Doors of Night. Some say he returned to Middle-earth unrepentant, there to tempt and deceive the younger races. Others tell different tales, of Sauron walking Middle-earth as a lowly Man, secretly aiding the peoples he had once sought to conquer; or of his wandering through the Void by choice, waiting to warn the Valar of Morgoth's awakening at the End of Days.
For the truth of it, seek the answers in thine own heart.
The story was originally posted to the Henneth-Annûn email list as part of the Tarot Archetypes Challenge.
The author would like to thank Pandemonium 213 for beta-ing the story; her fascinating stories can be found at SilmarillionWritersGuild.org.
Papers compiled by Tolkien in the 1960's have yielded an original name for Sauron, before he gave his allegiance to Melkor (a.k.a. Morgoth) – that of Mairon, which means "the Admirable", or "The Admirable One". This information was published in Parma Eldalamberon 17, p. 183; and was originally unearthed for me by Nath, via the HASA Research Forum.