5. First Age Relic
Together they walked for many more months, not speaking for days at a time. Khamul found that she could still appreciate the emptiness of the wasteland while at the same time having a person to talk to in case she ever felt in need of it.
"You were here six months, you say?" she asked one day.
"Yes," the man said. He still hadn't deigned to give his name, and so neither had Khamul.
"How'd you get here?"
"The Valar," the man said.
Khamul sighed. "If we're going to travel together, we need to agree on a set of rules," she said. "This includes no initiating conversation with me, and not being a Valar-worshiping freak. Understand?"
"They sent me here," the man said.
"Why would they do that? What did you do to deserve it?"
The man looked puzzled for a moment, then he shrugged. "Can we really question the ways of the Valar?" he asked.
"Yes, we can," Khamul said. "And we can find them wanting."
"I see that we do not see to eye on this matter," the man said. "What of your history, lady? I see that you are not from these lands. Are you an Easterling?"
"I am a proud Haradrim," Khamul said. "Not some pathetic Easterling."
The man nodded. "Things have changed," he said.
"I'm sure," Khamul said.
"Tell me of the western lands. What occurs? Who rules in the north?"
Khamul snorted. "Unless he's died by now – and everyone knows he should be dead already – Valandil's king of Arnor."
The man was momentarily thrown by this, but then nodded. "He is a wise elf, I am sure," he said.
"I don't know what universe you're living in," Khamul said, "but Valandil, son of Isildur, is most definitely not an elf."
"He is a Man?"
The man seemed very surprised by this. "But he is king of the north."
"Yes. Arnor. He is High King of Arnor, and Gondor, at least, he should be. That was Isildur's intention, I believe."
"Could you explain to me what occurred to set up this Valandil as king of Arnor?"
Khamul sighed. "Elendil and Gil-galad killed Sauron, there was a horrible, tragic accident involving Isildur and three of his sons getting brutally murdered, and so Valandil became king. Understand?"
"Why is Gil-galad not king?"
"Because he's dead!" Khamul yelled. "Have you been living under a rock?"
"The Valar dropped me here," the man said. "Can you not comprehend that? And what is it that you are saying? Gil-galad cannot be dead!"
"Yes, he's dead! Sauron incinerated him like a chicken! He's dead!"
"That's not possible."
"It's entirely possible! Have the Valar neglected to properly inform their unfortunate victims before they drop them in Middle-Earth? What are you anyway? A really stupid divine messenger? A prophet maybe? Well, by all means, preach away!"
"I am no prophet!" the man snarled. "Why the Valar chose to grace me with dropping me here, in the middle of nowhere, I do not know! But I do know that they are wise beyond all mortal comprehension! None can know their true purpose!"
Her rage subsiding into cold calculation, Khamul considered the man. He doesn't know about Arnor, she thought, or any of the Third Age realms, for that matter. "What do you think about Numenor?" she asked.
"Eh? What is that?" the man asked.
Ah, so he's ignorant of the entire Second Age as well, Khamul thought, her eyes narrowing. "Sauron? Do you know of him?"
"Of course," the man snorted. "He is Morgoth's lieutenant."
Aha! First Age imbecile. Now…what happened? "Beren and Luthien," Khamul said. "Great heroes, do you think?"
"Of course!" the man snapped. "What are you doing? Do you think I'm mad?"
"Not anymore," Khamul said. Narrows that down a bit. "And Morgoth, what do you ever think became of him?"
The man shrugged. "I do not know," he said. "I would assume the land is not under his command since you spoke of Sauron as the great power here."
"Great fallen power," Khamul said. After the Silmaril snatchers, but before the War of Wrath, she thought. "Gondolin," she said. "Such a tragedy."
"Indeed," the man said. "I can only pray the survivors escaped. Do you know what occurred?" he asked.
Khamul didn't answer, as she was busy skimming through her mental list of fallen heroes of Gondolin. Turgon? she thought, looking at the man. No, he doesn't look like a king. But all the heroes of Gondolin were elves! Is he…?
"Are you an elf?" she asked.
"Yes," the man said, nodding.
If he's willing to answer that question, I might as well just ask it, Khamul thought. "What's your name?" she asked.
"Glorfindel," the man said. "Why do you care?"
"You killed a balrog," Khamul said. "Impressive."
"I did it then?" Glorfindel asked, surprised. "I wasn't sure if it was dead. I myself died, I believe."
"And yet the Valar sent you back," Khamul said. "Any particular reason?"
"I do not know," Glorfindel said, looking up into the sky. "They must have had a reason to send me back here. This was, in the days of old, Cuivienen, the place where the elves woke up."
"Fascinating," Khamul said. "What a shame it has come to nothing."
"Indeed," Glorfindel whispered sadly. "Who are you?" he asked, looking sharply at Khamul. "I like not at all the way you spoke of Sauron."
"My name is Khamul," she said. "Strangely enough, I don't care if you like how I speak about Sauron. In case you haven't noticed, elf, I have a sword. You barely have the clothes on your back."
Glorfindel glared at her. "I would say you are a servant of that dark lord, but why would you let me live?"
"I'm asking myself that question right now," Khamul said. I should kill him, she thought. Send him back to Mandos.
"It is up to the conscious of your own heart, Khamul," Glorfindel said. "Kill me in cold blood, or let me live."
"I have murdered better men than you," Khamul hissed. I should kill him, she thought. Just like I should have killed Elendil. But that small mercy ended up saving me. He sent me the boat when there were none other in Numenor. He saved my life. Will it work the same way with Glorfindel?
"You're an elflord of great renown then," Khamul said. "If you were back in the western lands of Middle-Earth, what would you do?"
"I would find a stronghold of my people and dwell there, learning the ways of this strange new world," Glorfindel answered honestly. "And then I would strive to defeat you and your evil master."
"You can tell I'm with Sauron?" Khamul asked.
"It is not difficult. That ring you wear reeks of the dark powers."
Khamul nodded. "If I spared your life," she said, "would you feel indebted to me?"
Glorfindel hesitated. "You are evil," he said, "yet you would have spared me and saved me from this wasteland. I…I fear that I would."
"So if I were to ever need your help, you would grant it."
"It depends," Glorfindel said warily. "I would not murder for you, nor spy, nor tell you anything that could change the fate of the world."
"But apart from that?"
Glorfindel shrugged. "I suppose so," he said. "I do not like making a bargain with evil though."
"I think you'd like dying a second time even less," Khamul said.
"That is true," Glorfindel admitted.
"Good," Khamul said with a grin. "It seems we have come to an accord."