54. Five Years
Earnur staggered off the ship, careful not to show how much the sea voyage had sickened him. Cursed storm! It had delayed them considerably, and he wasn't sure in what state they would find Arthedain.
"Ah, Prince Earnur."
Earnur glanced up. It was some elf. There were a lot of elves around now that he took the time to notice. They were armed as well. Earnur's hand went to his sword.
"No, Prince, we are your allies," the elf said. He had long golden hair tied at the nape of his neck. "I am Glorfindel, from Imladris. I have brought many kinsmen to help you rid the land of the scourge that is the Witch-King."
"Good," Earnur said. "Has something happened?" he asked, looking around. "Where is Arvedui? Is Fornost under siege?"
Sadness filled Glorfindel's face and Earnur's worst fears were confirmed. "Fornost has fallen. I do not know if Arvedui still lives. He may be dead."
Earnur sighed. Ah well, the heathen king had gotten what he deserved for daring to claim the throne of Gondor.
"The remains of Fornost are under the control of the Witch-King. I see that you have brought cavalry from Gondor, and if you will permit me, I have a plan to ensure defeat for Angmar."
Earnur was reluctant to let anyone do his planning for him, but it was an elf, and elves were wise. Or they were supposed to be, anyway.
"All right," he said. "Where are you all from anyway?" he asked.
"Most of us are from Imladris, but Cirdan has sent a large force from Lindon. And this is Legolas, from Mirkwood." He gestured to a black-haired elf who nodded. He had an unpleasant smirk. "He actually suggested this plan." Glorfindel sounded both surprised and slightly suspicious.
"Well, let me hear it," Earnur said. "I'll see if it's any good."
Glorfindel and Legolas exchanged glances. Suspicion passed between them, but it was quickly surpassed by their mutual eye-rolling of Earnur.
"So, we won," Khamul said.
"And you didn't find Arvedui," Yanta said.
"I'll find him one of these days," Khamul said as she walked through the ruins of Fornost. "Where's Aica?"
"I think she went to see if there was anything shiny left in the castle."
Khamul snorted. The castle had been burned until there was nothing but the foundations left. "Trust her, the little scavenger."
Aica was in the ruins, but she wasn't looking for valuables. She was sitting with her back to a pillar, the palantir on her lap. She was frowning.
"Can you find Arvedui for me?" Khamul asked.
Aica jumped, but then her scowl deepened. "I'm looking," she snapped. "You know what he did?"
"He took the Amon Sul and Annuminas palantiri with him!"
"Shocking. Can he use them to thwart you?"
"No. I don't think he knows how to use them. Try to get them back when you kill him. They're valuable."
Khamul rolled her eyes. She missed the stupid, blindly violent Aica. This new one annoyed her. "Where is Arvedui?" she hissed.
"He is in a dwarf mine," Aica replied. "No, wait, he's not. He's leaving a dwarf mine."
"Why's he leaving it?"
"Because he looks like a skeleton. He's all alone. I think everyone who went with him died."
"Too bad for him. Where's he going?"
"I don't know!"
Khamul hissed in exasperation. "What direction is he heading?"
Khamul reviewed her geography. "Ice Bay of Forochel, probably," she said. "Cirdan might send a ship for him."
"I suppose." Aica shrugged.
"No, not really," Aica said.
"Really? I thought Earnil would send someone."
Aica shook her head. "I'm not seeing anyone."
"Huh. Gondor must be in worse shape than I thought," Khamul said.
"I guess so."
"Nothing else then?"
"No…oh, wait. Yes."
"What is it?" Khamul asked.
"There's some guy standing outside the gates. The northern gates. He looks familiar but I can't place him," Aica reported.
Khamul sighed. "I'll go see what he wants. Keep an eye out for Earnil."
"Will do," Aica said with a smile. The smile widened as Khamul left. Aica could hardly suppress laughter, and a single giggle escaped her. She was going to have her revenge on Morion. They all relied so strongly on her for information that they hardly used spies anymore. Earnur's army would catch them all unawares, and Aica would be safe and sound a distance away, watching the slaughter with glee.
"Hey! You! Who do you think you are?" Khamul shouted as she approached the strange man. He stood alone some distance from the gates. He looked like he was contemplating them.
The man glanced at Khamul and slowly removed his hood. Long black hair tumbled over his shoulders. Piercing black eyes stared at Khamul.
"Sauron," Khamul whispered.
"Come to see the destruction of Fornost. I must admit, it's quite impressive." Sauron smiled. "Have the palantiri been recovered?" he asked.
"The what?" Khamul asked. Play it dumb, she thought.
"Seeing stones. Was anything recovered from the palace?"
"No. It's a heap of ash."
Sauron frowned. "They are with Arvedui then. Go after him."
"I'll go tell Morion."
"No. Go now."
"But Morion –"
Sauron waved a hand impatiently. "Go after the Last King. Morion does not matter and neither does the army. They have achieved their goal."
"You're going to kill him?" Khamul gasped. Were they expandable now that Arthedain had fallen?
Sauron chuckled. "No, of course not. Gondor still stands. However, I shall be watching the battle with considerable enjoyment and interest. I will have to see what vantage point Aica has. I'm sure it's the best one."
"Vantage point? Aica? What…? She betrayed us!" Khamul exclaimed as enlightenment dawned. "Earnil's sent an army! He's coming!"
"Yes," Sauron said. "How good of him to follow my plan. I must say, it's as if our minds are linked."
"You want him to destroy the army?"
"You want Angmar to fall?"
"Oh yes. It has served its purpose."
"What's your plan?"
"When you return from your trip, I'm sure you'll understand."
"I don't think I will," Khamul said.
"Oh, I'm sure you will. For one thing, you'll either have to find a ship, or endure a very long ride."
I'm going south, Khamul thought. Why? Are we returning to Mordor? We are, aren't we? I knew it.
"Go," Sauron ordered.
"Let me get my horse," Khamul snapped. "Or do you want me to run after the king?"
Sauron whistled and Khamul's horse trotted up. "There's your horse," the Dark Lord said. "Find Arvedui and kill him. And if you could find his wife and child, I would be much obliged if you could end Isildur's line. And Anarion's as well."
"Earnur and Earnil are descendants of Anarion," Khamul reminded him.
"I know," Sauron said with a smile. "As reward for his excellent work – he might as well be a ringbearer – I'll leave Earnil in peace. His son, however… Oh, Khamul, that is going to be such fun."
Poor Earnur, Khamul thought.
"Make sure you move quickly," Sauron said. "You have five years."
"It's going to take me a lot less time than that," Khamul snapped. She frowned. "Why five years?"
"In five years it will be 1980. Third Age, of course."
"Oh, but that date means everything."
"Of course it does. It's when I won't be alone anymore."
Sauron didn't care to elaborate any further and simply watched the ruins of Fornost with a disturbing smile on his lips.
I won't be alone anymore, Khamul thought as she spurred her horse north along the road. What does that mean? Is Morgoth coming back? What's happening?
Well, there was one thing for certain. Whatever was happening in five years, Sauron wanted her involved in it. Khamul wasn't entirely sure whether that was good or bad.
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.