13. King of the Misty Mountains
"Two kingdoms," Sauron muttered, pacing. "The bastard! Two kingdoms! Gondor in the south, Rohan in the north! The bastard! He does have foresight!"
It was rare for the lord of Dol Guldur to lose his temper, and the orcs and other foul things of the stronghold kept well away when he did.
"My lord?" a brave goblin asked, limping into the room. It was a hideously deformed thing, what with the limp and the ghastly hunchback.
"What is it?" Sauron asked.
"Lord Lungorthin, the balrog of Moria, sends his greetings."
Sauron snorted. "I'll bet he does."
"He wishes to inform you that while he will not be joining your army in Mordor, nor coming to Dol Guldur itself, he will guard Moria against intruders unfriendly to you."
"That's what he's doing now!"
"That is all he said, my lord." The goblin bowed.
"You, what's your name?" Sauron asked. He felt strangely out of sorts today. It was Feanor. It had to be.
"Grish, my lord."
"In what capacity have you served me, Grish?"
"I recently led three hundred orcs on wargs to slay Eorl, my lord."
"Well, obviously, you failed."
"I destroyed his village, my lord."
Which incited him to violence and the aiding of Cirion. "On whose orders?" Sauron asked.
"The Witch-King's, my lord."
Sauron frowned. He saw Morgoth's hand in this. "Very well," he said. "Grish, I have need of a loyal goblin. A loyal goblin who doesn't mind heights, the cold, or sentient mountains."
Grish smiled. "I am yours to command, my lord," he said.
Good, no trying to weasel out of it. "Henceforth you are the High Goblin of the southern Misty Mountains. Your realm stretches from the Gladden River to Methedras. Guard it well."
"I am deeply honored, my lord." Grish looked up expectantly. No gift so great came without a great, great price.
"I take it you came straight from Moria?"
"Yes, my lord. I spoke with Lord Lungorthin himself."
Sauron nodded. "What happened to the other orcs?"
"Lord Lungorthin was…hungry."
"And the wargs?"
"They went free for the most part, my lord."
Lovely. Wargs roaming freely across the land. "Did you, perchance, see the three great mountains of Moria?" Sauron asked.
"Yes, my lord," Grish said. "Do you wish for me to make my home in one of them?"
"That won't be necessary, although you will need some tunnels in them. You shouldn't have to build many as they are riddled with tunnels from the dwarves. Just make sure you are able to reach all parts of Caradhras very quickly."
"Caradhras…Redhorn. Yes, my lord, I am familiar with that one."
"Good," Sauron said. You're not the only with foresight, he thought bitterly at Feanor. "Make your home where you like, the further from Caradhras, the better. Perhaps in Methedras or near it."
"An excellent suggestion, my lord. Will the goblins obey me?"
"They will," Sauron said. He walked over to Grish and lay the tip of his first finger on the goblin's greasy green flesh. Grish started and when Sauron lowered his hand, there was a burn in the shape of an eye on the goblin's forehead. "That will make them listen to you," he said.
"I thank you, lord," Grish whispered. He resisted the temptation to touch the brand.
"Make your home, watch who comes and goes on Caradhras," Sauron said.
"You spoke of sentient mountains, lord. Is Caradhras…?"
"Yes. It will no doubt regale you with tales of your high and mighty destiny. Ignore it. And do not touch anything near the Redhorn Gate."
"The rocks, my lord? The snow? What?"
"You will know what it is," Sauron said. "Do not touch anything. You must not incur the mountain's wrath."
Grish frowned. "Is there something you want me to do there, my lord?"
"In time, Grish, in time," Sauron said.
"When will this time be, my lord?"
"You will know it when you see it."
Statements exactly like that made Grish very, very nervous. "Will the mountain tell me, my lord?" he asked.
"You know, it actually might. It is quite concerned with getting this part of its plans right. So concerned, in fact, that it actually took the time to give me the idea of sending a goblin to govern the Misty Mountains."
What was this destiny? Grish wondered. More importantly, how would it affect Grish? Was it a destiny that ended with him as king with lots of wealth and wine, or would it end with his head on a pike?
"I suspect you will enjoy your time as king," Sauron said. There was something in his eye that Grish didn't like in the least. "I suspect you will enjoy it quite a bit."
Miles away, at the foot of the western Redhorn Gate, nine shrines stood. The tenth had collapsed recently, crumbling as though struck with a crushing blow. A band of humans crossing the pass didn't notice the shrines. They noticed the voice on the wind though. It made no move to stop them, was not threatening, but it was still there. A living voice of the mountain.
"Nine more," the voice whispered. "Nine more shrines. The time is coming for the Ring, the Crown, and the Tree!"
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