The Elves I have slain would never guess that long ago I was a friend to their people, even to the point of being named Elvellon. I came to Middle-Earth as an Admiral of Numenor. Not long after landing, we came upon a large host of Orcs besieging a small Elven settlement. The Orcs were many and fierce, but no match for our steel bows.
My people held that in the beginning, Eru promised Men eternal life. But shortly after we awakened, through some misdeed we have forgotten, the promise was withdrawn. Decay and death became our lot. If the latter was bearable, the former was not.
I spoke to many Elves on this matter. One woman, beautiful beyond compare, told me that Eru intended death as a Gift to Men. Endless life could be a burden, and the Elves in fact envied us. The point was well made, and even sincere.
But what of decay? No one could explain to me how old age was a 'gift'. No Elf I spoke to understood this grievance at all. Not that that surprised me - how could it be otherwise? Although they know death all too well, they only understand death in battle. Those who are not slain actually strengthen with the passing of centuries. They grow in wisdom, and also strengthen quite literally, as their feär gain greater control over their hroar. If you a large, powerfully built Man, as I was, imagine your astonishment upon finding that a Nando half your weight can lift you above his head, but his fully grown grandson cannot!
This I pondered long. I came to the conclusion that either Men had committed so vile an act (in the earliest days) that Eru should have destroyed us all in disgust, or else a grave injustice had been done. Neither possibility was comforting.
But, as a lord and later a King of a great Numenorean colony, I was in a position to do something about it. Much of my House's income came from trade. A portion, I gave to our best healers, on condition that they develop new medicines to treat the many illnesses that beset our kind.
And they were successful! Grandparents and great-grandparents could play with their young descendants, without paying a toll of pain afterwards. Memories did not fade as hair grayed or fell out. Our people, for the most part, lived well until the last year of their lives; then Death came swiftly and mercifully. I was proud of what I had done, and I still am.
But one day a healer came among us who put the skills of our best to shame. He would not say what sort of being he was, but all could see he was greater than any Elf. Our loremasters guessed, rightly as it turned out out, that he was a Maia. Woe that none guessed which one!
Some fools say that He is entirely evil. But he did great good amongst us. We were assailed by Men of a race strange to us. Though we won that war decisively, naturally we suffered many casualties. But I saw with my own eyes, more than once, soldiers under my command, mortally wounded, restored to health by a mere touch of his hand. Thus many of our women and children avoided becoming widows and orphans. For those families, at least, His presence was entirely good. If trouble came of it much later, and it did, they did not experience it, for they'd long since died. Peacefully, often in their sleep, through the Gift of Illuvatar.
One day Annatar - he would never tell us his name, so my people took to calling him Annatar - said he must leave us, for he wished to extend the same aid to other Men. Many were grieved, but I understood; why should others not benefit from his skill, as we had? For in addition to being a healer, he was the finest teacher I've ever known. Far better than any of the Elven healers, most (if not all) of whom viewed helping Mortals as only prolonging the inevitable, and thus a waste of energy.
When he left, he gave me a ring as a token of thanks for the hospitality my people had shown him. He did not present it as a thing of power. Truly, it seemed little different from the other jewels and baubles I wore on formal occasions.
I liked the Ring, so I wore it. All was well with our people, and I was much beloved. I never sensed anything amiss until my children died before me. All six of them. But even that, I deemed merely an ill twist of fate, for my wife still lived to share the grief, and we were not yet the eldest of our people. Well-preserved, they called us.
A generation later, much had changed. My wife and all of my close friends were dead, and my life had become wearisome. But my body and mind were still strong.
A King's duties can be all-consuming, and I neglected none of mine. I worked, often from before dawn to after midnight, to govern my realm. So, time slipped by. Counsellors came and went. I saw my grandson's grandson's grandaughter wed. If my people had begun to fear me, they did not say so, for we prospered. But it did seem a vast and cruel jest that I finally understood the envy of the Elven Lady.
I know that it is said that we Nazgul were gradually enslaved by our Rings. For some of my colleagues, and our Captain, this was so. Not for me. I went to bed one night a great King, master of my own will. The next morning I woke with less will than a dog. Sauron had merely bided his time. He commanded me to leave my people, to forget my own name and that of my realm, and to reveal to no one where I was bound. Like a beaten dog, I obeyed - I could do naught else. But strangely, He left the rest of my memories intact.
Much has befallen since then. More than an Age has passed. I have done deeds I could have scarcely imagined. Yet they pale in comparison to those of Ar-Pharazon, descended by who knows how many generations from the King I'd once served. The fool! For every Man I've killed, he caused the deaths of hundreds.
The lives I take now are but repayment for the ones saved in my realm, so long ago. The widows and orphans I make, but take the place of those who were saved from similar fates by my Master's own hand. So He tells me. And with the remnants of my mind that remain free, I know that He is right.
My only regret is that the knowledge gained through my generosity to those long-dead healers is entirely lost to Men. All the rest is froth in my life's wake.
A/N: "That's froth in my life's wake" - Vasco Rodrigues, Shogun
This story is a bit uncanonical w/r to the lives of the Numenoreans, which were largely free from 'decay' when this Ringwraith came to Middle-Earth in the mid-Second Age. Perhaps the favor of the Valar was withdrawn from those who made the journey..
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.