"Come on!" Aica shouted, slapping the reins. The horse rushed across the land, but it wasn't fast enough for Aica. Had they been going as fast as the wind, it still wouldn't be fast enough. She had to get to Lorien and back in three months. It didn't seem possible. There were the Misty Mountains to cross, and the only feasible pass was Caradhras, which she'd heard was a nightmare. The only other option was through the Mines of Moria, but what dwarf was about to let a Nazgul in?
"Caradhras it is then," Aica grumbled, scowling. I wonder what happens if I freeze solid? she thought.
The land sped by under the horse's hooves and the gray peaks came ever closer. Which one is Caradhras? Aica thought. She'd been this way before, but she'd never paid attention to Vorea's geography lessons.
Caradhras…Barazinbar the dwarves called it. And Men called it…Redhorn. So it was probably red and shaped like a horn.
Feeling cheered and quite intelligent, Aica studied the peaks, looking for one tinted red and horn-shaped.
Feanor was behaving strangely, Melkor noticed, but he didn't have time to dwell on it. He was watching with consternation as Gondor's vigilant guard on Mordor became less vigilant, as Arthedain relaxed its border security, confident in the knowledge that Angmar had been hit too hard by the plague to do any serious damage.
The cunning bastard!
Melkor had thought Sauron had ruined his plans with the plague. Destroying half your army! Wiping out your fields! It was madness! But it was a madness that was working.
Mordor was now empty, save for a growing number of orcs who were preparing the way for the return of their master. And in the north Arthedain let Angmar rebuild its strength uncontested. It was like they were begging for an invasion!
Argeleb probably could've finished them all off if he'd tried, Melkor thought, grinding his teeth. But no, he stays safe and sound while his enemies begin to mass outside. He should've put solders in Cardolan to keep Morion from planting ghosts. Dammit! There isn't even a point to watching this madness anymore. He's lost! Arthedain's doomed!
Under no circumstances did Melkor want Sauron to win. He did not want his pupil to regain the Ring, and he did not want him to rule Arda. When Melkor returned, he wanted to find a weakened, defeated apprentice, a host of orcs waiting to do his bidding, and a weakened Arda. He did not want to find that all paid homage to the Lord of the Rings.
"I can't believe this plan is working," Melkor muttered, shaking his head. He hadn't given his pupil enough credit.
"What plan?" Feanor asked.
"Sauron's plans," Melkor snapped. Feanor started to ask another question, but Melkor shut him up with a glare. "Don't say another word," he threatened, "or I'll feed you to Ungoliant."
Feanor nodded and looked scared, but Melkor could swear there was a glimmer of defiance in his eyes. Defiance, hope, and pure hate.
Feanor was planning something.
"Nice place," Aica muttered as she rode her horse up the spiraling path to Caradhras. From this height she could see the valley of Azanulbizar. The vast lake, Mirrormere, glimmered but Aica didn't see any stars reflected in it. Probably just a myth, she thought.
Along with the myth that the mountain's alive.
Stories had trickled north, mainly from a race of midgets who'd migrated from the Gladden Fields to Eriador, about the treachery of Caradhras. It wasn't just that the pass was dangerous, which it certainly was, but that the mountain conspired against travelers. Some reported hearing a voice on the keening wind. Others said that boulders like fists rained down upon them. One thing was for certain, the mountain didn't like having people climb it.
I don't suppose I'd care for it much if I was mountain, Aica thought as she continued carefully up the dull red slopes. The snowline was far ahead, but she had to pass over the mountain, which meant snow.
It was nearing evening when a small rock struck Aica in the arm. It was just an annoyance, but when she glanced at the mountain in irritation, she heard a voice.
That was all. Very clear and to the point.
"There are tons of people who've climbed this mountain," Aica snapped. "I'm going to be one of them."
The voice was eerie. Aica couldn't be sure she wasn't imagining it. Frowning, she took out the palantir. "Feanor?" she muttered. "Can mountains talk?"
There wasn't a reply for a while, but then she heard the elf sigh.
"This mountain is telling me to leave."
~What mountain is it?~
~What are you doing on that? It's cursed!~
"It is?" Aica asked, looking around nervously.
~Just get off it before it decides to push you off.~
"I can't get to Lorien then."
~What about the Mines? Do the Dwarves still live there?~
"Yes, I think so. They won't let anybody in though."
Feanor sighed again. ~You'll die if you continue on Caradhras. If you can die, that is. Whatever happens, it won't be pleasant. Better to chance the Dwarves.~
"Damn you, you stupid mountain!" Aica yelled as she turned the horse around.
~Oh, brilliant job. Really amazing. You've made it angry."
Aica could feel the mountain's hate all the way down. It was like a knife poking her in the back. Twice her horse nearly slipped in the dark, but each time it managed to recover. Finally, as dawn rose, Aica approached the end of the pass.
"I hope you're satisfied," she snapped, turning around for a final glare at the mountain.
"One only of your kind will I let climb me," Caradhras said.
I'm imagining it, Aica thought. I am. I know I am. Mountains can't talk.
"And one only of His line will I let through. And once only."
"Who? Feanor?" Aica asked. She didn't know if Feanor had any descendents, but she supposed he probably did.
The mountain didn't answer her question and went back to being a perfectly normal mountain.
Cursing heartily, Aica led her horse down into the valley. Maybe they'll help a human in need, she thought. If they can't tell I'm a Nazgul. Oh, that would be bad.
Treading carefully around the lake, Aica approached the wall of Moria. Now, she thought. How do I get in?
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.