48. Beginning of the End
"I was wondering when you would get back," Sauron said. "Did you learn anything useful on your little trip?"
"I don't know," Khamul said.
"You look like you have seen a ghost."
"I don't know."
"Can you say something else besides 'I don't know'?"
"I think…I think I saw the future."
Sauron frowned. "I doubt you are gifted with foresight, Khamul. Even in the unlikely circumstance that you are, I seriously doubt it would show up so abruptly now."
"I was riding along a road…and then there were all these people."
"Yes, people do tend to be on roads."
"No, no. The people were drinking and laughing, and I started talking to one, and he just started talking about all this gibberish."
"All these people I didn't know about. Good old Frodo Baggins. Stuff like that. He seemed to think they were important. I don't understand it."
"Would you perhaps have been in the Shire?"
"Halflings are strange, stupid creatures," Sauron said. "No doubt this one was very confused or very drunk. Perhaps both."
"But then I looked around and they were all gone," Khamul said. "Everything. The lanterns, the streamers, the people. And I met this one old Halfling, and he was talking about Frodo being born. It was so strange."
"I believe I can enlighten you."
"You can?" For once, Khamul would gladly welcome Sauron's help.
"This Frodo is an important man in the Shire, so they are celebrating his son, or relative's, birthday. The feasters appeared to vanish because you simply did not notice them leave. Halflings can move very quickly when they wish to."
Sauron didn't understand. He hadn't been there. Khamul had been there, with Sam and Pippin and Merry. And then they had all been gone. Vanished. Like smoke. No, faster than smoke. They'd vanished like they'd been hallucinations, or dreams.
"What's been going on here?" Khamul asked at last, giving up on any hope that Sauron would be able to help her. "Anything good?"
"I would ask someone else about that," Sauron said.
That wasn't good. "Who should I ask?"
"Perhaps Morion, if the green liquid has stopped coming out of his mouth."
"Oh, lovely," Khamul groaned. She hurried up to the Witch-King's room to find him in bed, leaning over a bucket. "You all right?" she asked.
"How was your excursion?" Morion asked, glancing up. He was looking paler and paler. Perhaps his blood had turned white.
"I saw the future but Sauron doesn't believe me."
"I think so…oh, he's got me doubting myself now."
"What was the future?"
"There's an important Halfling named Frodo who dies. And there's a fellow named Elessar who's very important. And Faramir and Theoden and Eowyn."
Morion frowned. "I've heard of Theoden."
"He's the son of King Thengel of Rohan. A good man, people say. Very kind and just."
"Could the Halflings have been talking about someone else?"
"Probably. Theoden isn't an uncommon name, but it isn't widely used either."
"What about Eowyn?"
"Reasonably common. It's also Rohirric. Theoden and Eowyn are probably related."
"One of the Halflings said she was the best woman in the world."
Morion smiled. "It sounds like he's in love. Except I don't know of a single Halfling ever visiting Rohan."
"Maybe in the future they do."
"How do you know this was the future? We might not have heard of this Elessar. He could be a big man in the Shire."
"They vanished," Khamul said. "Disappeared. One moment there were all these drunken Halflings, the next, they were gone. And then I heard that Frodo was just being born."
"Frodo might be a common name."
"It probably is. That's what Sauron said."
"He might be right."
Khamul shrugged. She glared at Morion. "What's wrong with you anyway? Vomiting green stuff?"
Morion nodded. "Sauron says it's the beginning of the conversion process."
"Morgoth is beginning to take over my body. The ring's not able to hold him back anymore. He's starting to break through."
"It's time then?"
"Or close to it." Morion sighed. "I know he wants to rule Arda, but I don't know what else he'll do. And I won't be there to see it."
"You aren't going to die, are you?"
"No, but I might as well. I'll never see you again, I suppose."
Did that mean something? Was Morion more upset about not seeing Khamul again than he was about, say, Ancalime?
Before Khamul could ask a question, Morion hiccuped and puked into the bucket. It was, indeed, quite green.
"How long before you're him?" Khamul asked when Morion'd finished.
"It can take a long time," Morion said. "Up to a few decades."
"Is it reversible?"
"And it's definitely going to happen?"
It's not reversible and it's going to happen no matter what I do, Khamul thought. Morion is going to be lost to me forever. Forever. And even if I die, he'll still be trapped. I'm never going to see him again.
"Are you…crying?" Morion asked.
"No!" Khamul snapped. "It's the light." She blinked a few times and successfully banished the tears.
"Oh, the light."
"Yes, it's the light! Of course it's the light! Why would I be crying?"
"You might be…sad, that I am going to effectively die."
"Why would I be sad?" Khamul laughed.
Morion shrugged but didn't say anything. He puked again into the bucket.
"Um…" Khamul wasn't sure what to say. She'd thought she had forever to get around to this, to say what needed to be said. Now she was running out of time fast. "Um, I was wondering…"
"Yes?" Morion asked, wiping a bit of green off his mouth.
The door opened. "Sauron says if you're not busy that you should help Ringe get the wargs under control," Metima said.
"Did he specify a time?" Khamul growled.
"Um…probably around now. The wargs are getting restless, and Ringe can't fend them off forever."
"All right," Khamul muttered. The moment had been lost anyway. And she certainly wasn't going to talk to Morion in front of Metima.
"We can talk again some time later," Morion said.
"Yeah, we can," Khamul agreed. "Feel better."
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.