23. Overwhelming Odds
"I always enjoy company."
Khamul smiled weakly and poked at the food. It looked like chicken, but who knew what it was? An orc did the cooking around here, no doubt, and they thought anything that moved was food.
"Is something troubling you?" Sauron asked, raising an eyebrow.
"No, I'm fine."
"Ah, that is good. You made good time as well."
"It's easier without all the orcs and Dunlendings in Rohan," Khamul said.
"Yes, they've all been slaughtered or driven out, haven't they?"
Khamul nodded. "The land's pretty empty now."
"Except for the wizard."
Khamul didn't know what to think about Saruman. He wasn't – as Morion and most of the others feared – a great and powerful ally of good. But neither was he on their side. He was a man out solely for himself. Dangerous and to be watched, of course, but not to be worried about as much.
Khamul just shrugged. "You wanted to talk to me?" she asked. She didn't like the pleasantries Sauron enjoyed so much.
"Yes," the Dark Lord said. "The War of Dwarves and Orcs has moved along my plans much faster than I would have chosen. Things are starting to happen in Arda. As you may know, a dragon now inhabits Erebor, the Lonely Mountain."
Khamul had heard about it, but she hadn't paid it much attention. It had seemed like a distant rumor while she was working in Gondor, a world away from the mountain.
"It's true?" she asked.
"Yes. It is a fire drake known as Smaug," Sauron said.
Khamul jerked slightly. Smaug. The dragon from almost two thousand years ago. He'd remembered her words and come to the western part of Middle-Earth at last.
"Is that important?" Khamul asked.
"It is always useful to a have a dragon in the area. It will take some bribery, but I believe he will be open to joining my forces." Unlike the balrog, was left hanging silently in the air.
"Do you want me to talk to him?" Khamul asked. I am not talking to that dragon again, she thought. No way, no how.
"Nothing of the sort. Besides, I believe you would only refuse. No, the reason I called you here is to offer you…a position."
"Only for a short while."
"Here." Sauron gestured to the fortress around them. "In Dol Guldor. I could do with having someone around besides the mindless orcs."
Khamul's eyes narrowed. "Are the elves massing for an attack?" she asked.
"No, they are far too busy dealing with several large colonies of spiders that have sprung up throughout their forests."
"So what is it?"
"You think I have some sort of ulterior motive?"
"Of course you do!"
"Very well," Sauron said. "I have recently…acquired something that others may wish to find."
"What is this 'something'?"
"A Dark Lord must have some secrets, Khamul," Sauron said.
"So you want me to stay here and guard something that you don't want to tell me about?" Khamul asked.
"Yes," Sauron said.
"What's coming after it exactly?"
"I do not know. However, it is very important that they do not find it."
"Obviously." Khamul frowned. "Is this about the Ring?" she asked.
"No," Sauron said. "And do not speak of the One again. Unless you have news about its whereabouts."
A creepy Halfling has it, I was a few feet from it, but then I lost it. No. Better not tell him that.
"I understand," Khamul said. "I'll guard this thing."
"Good. Now, I have a question."
"How has Morion been doing?"
"The incident with the balrog disturbed him," Sauron said. "Is he better?"
"He's pretty much locked himself in his office since then," Khamul said. "He's been very active in planning the war though. Given it his full attention."
"I know that. How does he look? Is he ill?"
Khamul thought about this. "Everyone's been looking a bit strange," she said. "Paler. Thinner."
"Do you notice it?"
"A little. Not much."
"Good," Sauron said. "You are a human and your life has been stretched so far beyond its natural course that even elves would find it difficult to live your life and be able to resist the temptations of the Grey Havens."
"What happens after we win?" Khamul asked.
"What happens after you get your Ring back and you're the ruler of the world?"
"What do you want to happen?" Sauron asked.
"No, tell me. What are you going to do?"
"I am still planning the war. It is better not to measure the drapes before you own the house, eh?"
"You have plans," Khamul said. "What are you going to do with us?"
"I suppose you will continue to serve me as you always have."
"Until The End."
Forever. Like this. Khamul enjoyed her life for the most part, but sometimes it did drag on. And forever…as Sauron's servant. A Sauron who was the most powerful being in all Arda. Who knew her every move. Who was always watching her.
"You seem to be turning a bit pale yourself," Sauron commented.
"Nothing. Never mind. Morion is going a bit strange."
"What do you mean?"
"He's starting to talk to himself. He's a lot paler than the rest of us, and he seems…hollow. He just…just…er…he…" Khamul tried to find the words. It was hard to explain exactly. "I think Morgoth is doing something to his mind. Sucking his soul out or something."
Sauron nodded as if this was no more than he expected.
"You knew this was going to happen?" Khamul gasped.
"Yes," Sauron said. "I expected no less from the great Dark Lord. Morion is in Arda, while Morgoth is in the Land of the Lost. Morgoth will eventually switch places with Morion and become a living being on Arda."
Khamul's eyes widened. "What do we do then? Will it be like in Numenor?"
"Oh no. Morgoth will be powerful, yes, but he will be trapped in the body. He will be as a mortal is. A death in that body would send him back to the Void. Beyond the Door of Night."
Khamul frowned. "Could we…?" Kill the Vala? she finished silently, wondering how deep Sauron's loyalties to his former master ran.
"He protected himself against that," Sauron said. "No man can slay him."
"No man, or no Man?" Khamul asked.
"Either, I believe. It is a simple metaphor for all beings. Crude, but useful."
"He fears Rohan," Khamul said, remembering the incident with Eorl.
"He wanted Eorl dead so badly he nearly lost his mind when the little bastard lived. He almost permanently damaged Morion."
"The Eorlingas cannot slay either Morion or Morgoth," Sauron said. "They are men in both senses of the word."
You see a lot, Sauron, Khamul thought. But in some areas you really are blind. Why did you pick me and Vorea and most of the others in the first place? Because we were women. Because no one would suspect us until it was too late. Because we would be constantly underestimated. And here you are, falling into the same trap. Will there be the same results? Maybe.
"Maybe he just doesn't like horses," Khamul said.
Sauron smiled. "Perhaps. I suspect he did not wish for Gondor to have an ally. I would have agreed with his plan had I known about it. As it is, I wish it had succeeded. Rohan has been making a nuisance of itself."
It was more than that. Morgoth saw that Rohan would be a threat to himself, him, Morgoth. He wanted to eliminate the threat, but failed. So the threat was there.
Sauron talked for a while longer, speaking about new renovations to Dol Guldor, but Khamul's mind was elsewhere.
Morgoth would one day take over Morion's body, sending his soul to the Land of the Lost. If Morgoth were killed, then perhaps Morion would return to his body.
If and when Sauron retrieved the Ring, he would rule as an all-powerful, all-seeing Dark Lord. There would be no place to hide, no place to wander off when she got bored. It would an eternity of service. Khamul did not sign up for that. She signed up for an eternity, plain and simple. With a dose of power on the side.
It was a daunting task, but it was one that had to be carried out. First of all, the House of Eorl had to be kept safe. Someone in there was going to have the potential to kill Morgoth. Second, Sauron couldn't get the Ring back. Ever.
Two Dark Lords, one a fallen Vala, the other, the mightiest Maia on Arda. And here was Khamul, a Haradrim with a magic ring. How could she possibly think about going up against them?
Khamul smiled a little. Since when did she back down from overwhelming odds?
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.