"Are you sure he'll be all right?" Firin asked.
"He'll be fine," Khamul assured him, patting Morion across the back. He was slung over the saddle, completely unconscious.
"How did your horse find us?" Firin asked as they rode toward the north. Escaping Methedras in the confusion had been incredibly easy. Firin now rode Morion's horse, while Khamul rode her own, which had somehow run several hundred miles to arrive at her destination. Or perhaps Snorb had sent it down the fast track as well.
"I have no idea," Khamul said.
"I've never ridden a horse before. Well, I have, but they've never been as nice as this one."
"I've got a question."
Firin's smile disappeared. "I always thought she was my mother," he said. "I suppose…maybe Father isn't my father either."
"Could I have some names?"
Khamul closed her eyes. Ah well, it was what she'd expected. "Elrond, Celebrian, Elrohir, and Elladan."
"Yes," Firin said, nodding.
"Not to forget Arwen, of course. However, I don't think a Firin was ever mentioned."
"I didn't know that," Firin muttered, staring at the ground. Then he looked up, frowning. "Arwen?"
"Yes, Elrond's daughter. Haven't you met her?"
Firin shook his head.
"Ah well, she must be living in Lorien. Celebrian's mother is Galadriel after all."
Firin nodded. "I suppose she must've been going there to visit." He slumped in the saddle. "I wonder…maybe my nursemaid…maybe she was mother. She was very nice. I wish I had told her I loved her. She probably wonders why I didn't."
"What was her name?"
Firin frowned, trying to recall it. "Gilraen," he said at last.
Gilraen. Who had shouted that as Khamul hacked down inn patrons? 'Gilraen! Get out!' Something about a child as well? And it was around the right time.
"Is everything all right?" Firin asked.
No, everything was not all right. Khamul had screwed up again, only this time it was a thousand times worse. She had just saved the life of Arathorn's son, Isildur's heir. But somehow the worst thing was that she had killed the father of the boy riding beside her.
"No, everything's fine," Khamul said. "Everything's fine." She patted Morion's back again.
"Will he wake up?" Firin asked. "I think it'd be interesting to talk to him, if he didn't want to kill me, that is."
"He'll be fine when he wakes up," Khamul said. "So…Rivendell? Is that where we're going?"
Firin frowned for a moment, then nodded. "Imladris, yes."
"Imladris," Khamul said. She smiled suddenly, the only bright spot now in her life being anticipating the expression on Elrond's face when she rode up with his wayward ward.
Firin glanced back toward the mountains. "Should we have left my brothers there?" he asked. "There are still goblins in the tunnels."
Khamul snorted. "Not by the time those elves're done. They'll have killed everything on, in, and around the mountain."
"What about that wound Mo – Lady Celebrian, received?"
Khamul shrugged. She'd been stabbed with Morion's enchanted dagger before. It hurt, a lot, and it had taken much longer to heal than it should have. How would it affect someone without a ring?
"I hope she doesn't die," Firin said, his face twisted with worry. "That would be terrible. Master Elrond would throw me out for sure. And then I'd starve to death. I'm always hopeless in the woods."
"Look, just take a deep breath, all right?" Khamul said. "Elrond won't throw you out."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm very sure."
"Can I come with you?" Firin asked nervously, twisting the reins in his hands. "I'd really like to. You're a much better person than anyone I've met."
Khamul smirked. A better person than a bunch of elves. Her. A Nazgul. "No," she said, shaking her head. "You can't come with me."
Because if Sauron ever learned who you were, he'd kill you personally. "It wouldn't work," she said. "I mean, I'd like it, but it just wouldn't work."
"I can learn! Really!"
"It's not about you," Khamul said. Yes, it is, but it's about something you can't control.
"Why can't I then?"
"Maybe when you're older," Khamul said, starting to get annoyed. "Not now though. I have things I need to do."
"Like what?" Firin asked.
He was never going to stop badgering her with questions. Never. Unless maybe she told him the truth. But what would he say when he learned what she was? He'd hate her. The hero-worship in his eyes would be crushed. Well, it'd be crushed sooner or later. Might as well be sooner.
Khamul took a deep breath. "Do you know about the Witch-King of Angmar?" she asked.
Firin nodded. "I've read about him, and the other Ringwraiths as well. There's not very much information on them though," he said with a touch of disappointment.
"What do you think of them?"
"Well, they're evil obviously. Killing all those innocent people… They're just servants of Sauron."
"Did Elrond ever tell you who brought back the shards of Narsil?"
Firin's eyes widened. "I've never even seen the shards," he said reverently. "I think it was Isildur's…squire or something. Only a few people escaped the slaughter."
"No one escaped," Khamul said. "No one."
"How do you know?" Firin asked. There was a trace of something in his eyes. Fear. Wariness. He wasn't a stupid boy; he was getting ideas about where this conversation was headed.
"I was there."
"What? You've been to the Gladden Fields?"
"Yes, almost three thousand years ago," Khamul said. "I killed Isildur, his sons, and all of his troops. I took the shards of Narsil from his son's dead fingers and brought them to Elrond."
Firin's eyes were as wide as plates. "No," he whispered. "No, you're human! You can't be that old!"
Khamul held up the hand with the ring on it. "I'm one of the Nine," she said. "Khamul, the Black Easterling. I've killed descendants of Isildur and Anarion alike. Kings of Gondor and Arthedain have fallen to my sword."
Firin went deathly pale and swayed in the saddle. Khamul worried that he was going to faint. "No. It can't be true. You…no. No!"
"It's true," Khamul said. "It's all true."
Firin's eyes went to Morion's unconscious form. "What's he then?" he asked fearfully.
"The Witch-King himself," Khamul said, giving Morion a slap on the back. "He's quite nice when he's not possessed by Morgoth."
That did it. Firin's eyes rolled up in his head and he slid off the horse. Fortunately, he landed on soft ground.
"Dammit," Khamul muttered. Hopefully Firin was all right. She hadn't meant to make him pass out. But when he woke up, what would he think of her? Would he ever trust her again? No, probably not. But that was for the best. The less he had to do with Khamul, the less chance he had of getting tangled up in the things that were coming.
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.