Chapter 1: Returning to the Darkness
"I wake to a Darkness in which I must follow myself endlessly, hating the I who so eternally pursues and confronts me. If we could rise from our misery, seek each other once more, and find again the solace of each other's lips and eyes." - Malcolm Lowry
Minas Morgul - Return of the King Soundtrack
I'm Sorry - EDOBY
The Fell Beast screeched a foul sound as the sickly green spires of Minas Morgul came into view. It circled the tallest tower before making for the gate, followed by its hatch-mate closely but still maintaining a safe distance. Both creatures were wary of the passenger astride the first, for he held an aura of death seconded by none they have ever been in the presence of.
The Witch-King of Angmar was once again among the magic and darkness of Minas Morgul, his seat of power in the West.
His Fell Beast landed as smoothly as it could for a creature of such gangly and serpentine design, but the Lord of the Nine was not unseated by any means. The second beast landed just behind him, bearing another of his brothers in shadow, and both let out another screech. They shifted only slightly as the Witch-King and the other of the Nazgûl dismounted. The reins of the beasts were taken by orcs, but the Ringwraiths did not give them even a glance as they walked to the gates of the Tower of Sorcery. But then the Witch-King saw a figure standing there and his eyes filled with a cold fire of contempt. He also sensed the same sentiments from his brother in shadow.
There at the gates stood the Mouth of Sauron, the servant who speaks for the Dark Lord outside of his most loyal servants. Them he spoke directly too, and so it was not often when the Witch-King would see the Mouth within his own lands. He mildly wondered why the vermin was here now.
The Mouth of Sauron bore a cracked smile, attempting to convey congeniality but ultimately failing, as the Witch-King came close in proximity. His words also tried the same. "Welcome home, Witch-King of Angmar. Our master is quite pleased with the swiftness of your return."
Both of the Nazgûl brushed past the Mouth without acknowledgement, and nor a word spoken. The Witch-King already knew of Sauron's pleasure at his return to Minas Morgul. He sensed it in the remains of the bond he still shared with the Lord of the Black Lands. The Mouth was left partially gaping, but managed to bring himself back up with what little dignity before he then began to busy himself elsewhere. The Ringwraiths were of the preference that he return to Barad-dûr and stay with their master. They had their duties to fulfill and did not want the Mouth to pester them with wasting words.
The Witch-King entered the city surrounding the glowing spires of Minas Morgul, now filled with orcs from the tribes that had been summoned here not too long ago. More were still to come though, as the battle that was to be had with the Men of the West was to be end of that era. No longer would men proudly walk the earth under the sun, not if Sauron and the darkness that followed him was to have a say. The orcs cleared the way for him, wary of the Lord of Carrion and his companion. They knew better than to hinder the Witch-King, for he was so far above them in power and would not hesitate to strike them down should they not comply.
Through this the travel to the tower itself was quick, and his brother in shadow left him there. He had other things he had to do, and as it was too with the Witch-King as he entered the tower as silent as the grave. The halls looked to be empty, but he knew better as he seemed to glide along his intended path much like a ghost. How all too accurate the comparison was as he observed the surroundings that were familiar but now entirely foreign. Much had changed in the time he had been gone from here, but it was not Minas Morgul that had changed.
It was himself.
The halls were dark and magic almost pulsed in the air around him as he then reached his destination. Large, dark wood doors opened before him, the magic recognizing his presence and eager to serve him again after so long an absence. Before him was a large chamber, a large desk of the same dark wood of the doors right in front of him, upon it many documents he would have to look over. To his right were shelves that reached the ceiling and they bore many books. A few of were even books from his native land of Numenor that he had managed to save before its fall. To his left, a sitting area were one would meet with appointed guests. This he never used, for the Witch-King of Angmar never receives guests.
The memory of this very tower's conquering returned to him in a flash.
The man then slashed at the Nazgûl before him, aiming to take its head, but the Witch-King simply held his sword up and successfully blocked it. The Witch-King held it steady, unwavering as the Lord of Minas Ithil applied more force to try and force the wraith back. That was not to be though, as then the Witch-King, with a flick of his wrist, moved the man's blade aside with ease and in the same movement withdrew a dagger and stabbed it into the heart of the Lord of Minas Ithil.
The man looked down at the blade in his chest, then into the darkness that was perceived in the hood of the Nazgûl in front of him. Blood then trickled from the corners of his mouth before his body slid off the dagger and onto the ground. The Witch-King then released a scream, the screeching sound alerting all within the fortress that Minas Ithil now belonged to the Witch-King, the Black Captain of Sauron.
The heavy doors closed behind him upon his full entry into the chamber, and after a long moment Er-Murazor sighed deeply. His eyes closed in that world of shadow, taking a few more breaths though his chest did not prove that he was indeed breathing. Opening his eyes again, they landed on the sitting area, specifically the stone pedestal that had replaced all other furniture there. It reached up to his chest, and a long black cloth was draped over it, etched with silver thread in the Black Speech of Mordor. It covered a round object that sat upon the pedestal, and looking at it the Witch-King had an idea.
A palantír had many uses after all.
Within a few strides he was standing before the pedestal, and in a single motion removed the cloth to reveal the palantír to him. It was black in color, the inner darkness only disturbed by a swirling storm of blue-grey. It was silent, no one using it and no one truly watching. Sauron was distracted and so Er-Murazor placed his gauntleted hand upon the palantír. It glowed brighter and soon a soft and white-colored inner light began to glow within the orb. Er-Murazor chanted a small spell under his breath a few times, encouraging the palantír to show him what he wished to see.
The light grew brighter, then flared in a fiery display and the Witch-King was forced the remove his hand from the palantír lest he be thrown from its presence. That white light dimmed suddenly and quickly, until the orb returned to a state of calm and rest. Er-Murazor took a moment to regain his composure as he eyed the seeing-stone. Worry burrowed into the back of his mind, seeping into his thoughts. He could not see her.
"Where are you Inconnu?" Er-Murazor muttered to himself, the concern all too plain in those words. The palantír could not find her and so he could not see her. All he could do was hope that she was as safe as he had left her. He knew that she would go after him again, that was truth, and that she would find him. Er-Murazor had faith that she would.
The Witch-king was standing before the palantír again, but this time for a far different reason. His palantír beneath the palm of his hand was wreathed in fire and a single eye was focused on him. Well, himself, the wizard Saruman, and his own second the Easterling.
This was the war council of Mordor, comprised of its most strategic minds and most loyal servants.
Er-Murazor had steeled his mind for this. He had to keep the truth that Inconnu Naeril still lived a secret from all others, especially the truths that he longer longer saw himself a servant of Sauron. He had a part to play and he could only hope that his own defenses were enough to hide those truths from Sauron. Soon enough, all parties were connected through either palantíri or scrying bowls and the council finally began.
'Lat ayh now properpak ukiavuaavun again wiavhin Minauk Morgul, mausan Wiavch-Kaumn ro Angmar?'
You are now properly situated again within Minas Morgul, my Witch-King of Angmar?
Sauron's voice crackled like lightning through him, but Er-Murazor remained steadfast as he replied, "All is as I had left it, and so I still retain my strength."
'Mir. Then kulknej saib now move our planuk parpara shal avhe war againukav gondor, avhe laukav ukavronghold ro avhe men ro avhe weukav.'
Good. Then we can now move our plans forward in the war against Gondor, the last stronghold of the Men of the West.
"What of Rohan and their riders?" The Witch-King questioned, and it was Saruman who replied with, "Theoden is weak, dying, and fully under my control. The Rohirrim will not ride to the aid of Gondor."
'Agh lat beukav mainavain avhaav conavrol Istari. Kulknej neun noav anoavhas failure par your parav.'
And you best maintain that control Istari. We need not another failure on your part.
Er-Murazor could easily feel the insulted emotions of the wizard, but Saruman did not comment on them.
"And what of the fortress of Dol Guldur?" This was directed at his second, and the Easterling did not fare well in concealing his frustrated tones.
"Dol Guldur was lost to the fair-folk. Celeborn of Lórien had come to the aid of Thranduil and we could not hold the fortress."
The Witch-King hissed. "Surely you were not so simply overcome by numbers?"
"No," The Easterling hissed back, "They had strange blades, their make like those used against you when Angmar still stood. There was little we could do against them."
This gave the council pause.
"How would elves know to make Westernesse blades?" Saruman pondered. "Those were only made during the final years of Arnor and surely the knowledge on how to make them was lost."
Suddenly, Er-Murazor remembered something Inconnu had told him, how she had seen the forging of Ghosts Song. She had said that she had seen a white-haired elf with the men of the north, and that he was a key factor of the strength of the swords and daggers of Westernesse make.
'Perhaps that elf still lives, and now aids his kin.'
It was a reasonable assumption, and valid to a point, but he did not make those thoughts known to the others. From there they finished out the topic of what were various pieces on the board stood currently, and then moved on to discussion of future strategies to employ to assure their victory. The Witch-King was to lead the battle on Minas Tirith, several thousand orcs, siege engines, and the forces from the East that he himself had gathered before he had been summoned back to chase after the One Ring. Additionally, the Corsairs of Umbar would arrive at the predicted date for the battle.
'Once avhe men ro avhe weukav ayh avhrough agh done wiavh, avhen kulknej liwo avake kurrauz dol guldur agh nauk-claim iav auk our ukavronghold avo avhe noravh. Ul elveuk liwo be dealav wiavh.'
Once the Men of the West are through and done with, then we will take back Dol Guldur and reclaim it as our stronghold to the north. The elves will be dealt with.
The Witch-King had few doubts about that, as the old fortress still remained their only viable option as a place to host a war from in that part of the world. Long ago they lost the chance to claim the lonely mountain as another stronghold, and the dragon along with it. Currently however, the Men of the West were the greatest concern to Sauron and so they were to be dealt with first. The Dark Lord's next words though struck sparks between the Witch-King and Saruman.
'Ul wizard known avo avhe elveuk auk Miavhrandir iuk youruk avo deal wiavh auk lat ukee fiav, mausan Wiavch-Kaumn ro Angmar.'
The wizard known to the elves as Mithrandir is yours to deal with as you see fit, my Witch-King of Angmar.
"What?!" Saruman cried out in disbelief, "Gandalf died at the hands of the Balrog! I saw him fall!"
'Yeav najor hauk nauk-avurned, agh najor hauk come kurrauz wiavh greaavas ukavrengavh.'
Yet he has returned, and he has come back with greater strength.
The Eye's focus was now on Er-Murazor.
'Najor iuk youruk avo deukavroausan.'
He is yours to destroy.
The Witch-King nodded. "I am more than powerful enough to deal with the wizard."
'Yeuk lat ayh, mausan Zi Capavain.' The voice of Sauron crooned to the Witch-King.
Yes you are, my Black Captain.
Saruman nearly stuttered and disputed, "I can certainly deal with-"
'Lat liwo do noavhing! lat gelnaj noav mabaj naj-ri shal your graukp agh lat ceravainpak did noav handle wiavh ukiavuaavion wiavh avhe Hunavreukuk ro avhe Noravh!'
You will do nothing! You could not hold him in your grasp and you certainly did not handle with situation with the Huntress of the North!
This silenced Saruman, pure anger radiating from the Witch-King's own palantír and he was sure Saruman felt the same thing from his. He kept his mind shielded even as happiness at the reference to his heart filled him. The topic eventually resumed to more of the endgame strategies, and soon the council ended entirely. Er-Murazor lifted his gauntleted hands from the palantír, letting fall back into its state of rest, and then covered it with the black cloth. He sighed in relief. There was little doubt now that he could hide the truth of himself from Sauron as well. All he had to do was maintain it until the time came in which he would no longer have to hide.
But now, for all intents and purposes, the Hosts of Mordor and Minas Morgul were ready for war.
Chapter 2: Returning to Reunite
"It's going from bad to worse. It's very worrying. It's a kind of shadow war." - Erik Solheim
Where is the Horse and Rider? - Two Towers Soundtrack
Inconnu took a deep intake of air as Sverundr slowed down to a complete stop, dancing side to side a little as he did so. She could still feel the tinglings of magic around her and she shivered as though it was a particularly cold winter wind. After a few more moments spent readjusting to the world, the huntress looked around her and her eyes widened in shock.
She was on the North-South Road, almost at its end.
Sverundr snorted and Inconnu then looked to what was ahead of them. The Pelennor Fields were spread before her and the land was split between shadows and light. To her right was the grandeur of Minas Tirith, gleaming white and a sheer pillar of light that stood steadfast against what lied further east. Mordor lied there at her left, the sky was darkening ever more, pushing against the light and only ever growing.
Indeed, much had changed since she had last been in this part of the world. Inconnu looked to Minas Tirith again, and she remembered Oromë's guiding words to her.
"Minas Tirith, and there you shall ally yourself with friends again."
A burst of excitement flooded her veins, and with a light tap of her heels to Sverundr's flank the large stallion burst into a gallop. They ran for the gates and in quick time they were there, having dashed along the North-South Road. The massive double-doored wooden gates loomed above her. They did not open however, and Inconnu had a feeling as to why that was. War was soon to be upon them after all. Sverundr pranced along the width of the gate, too energized to remain still.
"Who goes there?!" A guard then shouted and Inconnu declared, "It is I, Inconnu Naeril, Huntress of the North!"
After a few more moments of silence, the gates groaned as they opened and they only opened wide enough for her and Sverundr to ride through. Then they were shut again, heavy wooden beams laid across the bar further entry into the city of Minas Tirith, and what she found in the city brought back the memories of the last time she had been in Osgiliath.
The faces were haunted, and the fear that she had seen in the people of Osgiliath had now found its way into the heart of the people of Minas Tirith.
Inconnu took in a ragged breath as she dismounted and then began to walk through the city and up the steep streets, Sverundr's reins in hand. Many people took a pause in the appearance, a new individual in the city and after a moments pondering hope began to show in their eyes. Another champion had come after all, one that had been isolated in the far north now come to aid the Men of the West against the Dark Lord's revival. Inconnu did not meet many of their gazes however.
She did not know what to do with their hope placed in her, and so she wondered as to how Frodo could bear such a burden on his own shoulders. Inconnu saw herself as a protector all those things good in the north, but here and seen as a champion? This was a new level of expectation she never though to bear. Her shoulder was then nudged by Sverundr and she stopped walking in order to focus on her companion. Sverundr's brown eyes held a warm light in them and he nudged her again. Inconnu rubbed his nose, accepting his comforting gesture, and they then continued on their journey to the upper levels of Minas Tirith.
Soon enough Inconnu handed Sverundr's reins to a stablehand, a nervous young man, before entering a simple-designed courtyard. Her eyes widened a little at the scene before her. Important looking individuals were crowded around something on the ground by the White Tree… that made her pause.
The White Tree.
Inconnu couldn't help but be captivated by it, as he had heard the stories of this very tree. The symbol of the Gondor, the center of power for the Men of the West. Her awe was interrupted by a cry of joy however.
Looking towards the source of the cry she saw a Halfling running towards her, dressed in the attire of a Gondorian apprentice-warrior. The Hobbit ran into her, wrapping his arms around her in a hug, and it is then that Inconnu recognizes the Hobbit and returns the hug.
"You're back! You came back!"
Inconnu patted his shoulder in comfort as she replied, "Of course I would come back. I couldn't simply miss the excitement going on around here!"
"No you could not, Huntress."
'It can't be..'
Inconnu froze momentarily, not daring to believe the sage voice she now heard. Slowly, she looked up and saw the wizened face of Gandalf the Grey. Though not so grey anymore, as she noted that he carried a new staff of a smooth white wood and his robes were of the same color.
"Gandalf…?" She asked, still not quite believing what her eyes were seeing. The old wandering wizard smiled kindly as he nodded, and Inconnu began to tear up.
"You died in Khazad-dûm, I watched you fall as the Balrog took you!" Inconnu cried, and Gandalf then made his way to the Half-Elven wanderer, the butt of his staff thumping along the stone of the white courtyard.
"Like you, Inconnu Naeril, I could not stay away when I was needed."
Inconnu releases Pippin from her hug so she could stand, and she stood before Gandalf. They stared at each other for long moments until Inconnu held out her arm to him, and Gandalf grasped it in a warriors clasp. Inconnu smiled.
"Welcome back my friend."
"And to you as well Inconnu."
The clasp was released, and then Inconnu gestured to the now-smaller crowd by the White Tree.
"What has happened here Gandalf? All this is too similar what I saw in Osgiliath three years ago."
Gandalf too looked to the crowd, then gestured for her to follow him. She, as well as Pippin, did so but as they exited the courtyard she saw a stretcher being carried away from the White Tree. Inconnu did not have time to ask about it however as Gandalf eventually led them to a much smaller courtyard not too far from the one that held the White Tree itself. They stopped here, and Inconnu repeated, "What had happened here to mirror the people of Osgiliath?"
Gandalf took out his pipe, lit it, and puffed out a smoke ring before replying, "That is precisely it Inconnu. Osgiliath has fallen again to the Morgul Host, and I suspect that the main army even now marches towards Minas Tirith. They for them is now clear and the sky darkens more every passing day. It won't be long until the shadow of Mordor reaches us.
"And Denethor has done nothing?" She asked, shocked at what she was hearing, and then it was Pippin who spoke up.
"Faramir had been sent," The young Hobbit then nervously looked in the direction of the white courtyard. "He only returned barely half and hour before you arrived, one of the few survivors from the attempt to take back Osgiliath, and now he's caught a heavy fever from his wounds."
Her eyes widened. "And what of Boromir?"
Pippin cast his eyes downward. "He died trying to protect Merry and I from the Uruk-hai."
Inconnu's voice trembled a little as she asked, "When did this happen?"
"A few days after you had left Lothloríen."
This created a few moments of silence between the three of them, Inconnu working to fully process the news of the death of a good friend, despite his faults. Gandalf then put a hand on her shoulder, gently gripping it and she looked at him, meeting his gaze.
"It is not your fault for deciding to follow your Hunt, Inconnu. Boromir died a warrior's death, a honorable way to pass from this life."
Inconnu nodded, and Gandalf's tone then turned frustrated. "Unfortunately however, Boromir's death has brought a dark cloud of grief to Denethor that he refuses to move on from."
The huntress raised a fine eyebrow, as this was not the Steward of Gondor that she had met at the beginning of all this.
"What do you mean?"
"Denethor had lost his mind, and now I fear he will do something far more stupid than what he has already done."
The present situation suddenly made sense for Inconnu and she whispered. "That was Faramir in the courtyard."
Gandalf nodded and puffed more smoke from his pipe before saying, "Yes, and I believe that what has happened today will be the start of many mistakes that Denethor will make."
"What are we to do then?" Inconnu asked and Gandalf calmly replied, "Have hope, and pray that all we have accomplished so far has not been for naught."
The Huntress of the North sighed, then spied a carved stone bench. Tired from the True Hunters Path, she took a spot on it. Gandalf too decided to join her, nursing his pipe in the interlude of calming silence. Pippin's face then lit up and he asked Inconnu, "So what happened after you left the Fellowship at Lothloríen? Galadriel said your Hunt had taken a new direction and you were meant to follow the new path"
This made Inconnu smile, and her eyes seemed to shine brighter with an inner light.
"I picked up his trail in the Fangorn Forest, where I saw the ashen remains of a great fire. He had been caught in a fight with a being that looked to be made from the forest itself. From what I gathered, at some point the creature had caught on fire from something and somehow the Witch-King became trapped underneath it. He had eventually escaped and fled north, where I followed him until I found him in the High Fells of Rhudaur, deep in the Nazgûl Tomb."
Gandalf raised a thick grey eyebrow. "The Nazgûl Tomb? Why would he go there?"
Inconnu shrugged lightly as she replied, "I do not know, but when I found him he was… weaker, and the fires had done great damage upon him. And now," She paused for a moment, her eyes a little distant as she seemed to be remembering a happy memory. "The Witch-King is almost free from Sauron's grasp now. His mind and heart are now his own, all that is left is his soul."
Gandalf's aged features took on a interested look as he inquired, "So he is with us?"
Inconnu nodded. "He is, and has returned to the Tower of Sorcery as so to keep Sauron distracted from the changes I have brought to him."
"He returned to protect you?" Pippin looked a little confused, and Inconnu nodded. "I do not know what he told Sauron of myself, but considering the vile creatures that had been sent after me, I assume that Er-Murazor has told the Dark Lord that I am dead and wishes to keep me hidden from Sauron's sight."
"Er-Murazor?" Gandalf mused aloud, "That is his name?"
"Yes," Inconnu confirmed. "What interest does it bring to you?"
The old wizard gave another puff of his pipe. "I am certain I have heard that name before, 'Twilight Son' is the translation of it from Adunaic, but I cannot be for certain."
Both of them digested the information that the wizard had put forth for long minutes. Pippin shifted a little uncomfortably, and upon noticing this Inconnu shifted her attention to the young Hobbit and asked him, "So Pippin, what has become of the Fellowship?"
"A lot of things actually, but were split after Boromir's death. Frodo and Sam continued on to Mordor, while Merry and I had been captured by the Uruk-hai. Old Treebeard, one of the Ents, rescued us and that was when we found out that Gandalf was back. Eventually, we managed to convince to Ents to go to Isengard and stop what Saruman plans."
At this, Inconnu glanced at Gandalf and he nodded.
"Saruman is dead now, no longer will he continue to bring such treachery again."
Inconnu gave a slight nod, not really able to bring an honest conclusion to the fate of Saruman the White as she had never met the wizard, but it was a relief to know that there were now less foes to face in this war.
"And what of our other companions? Are they also here in Minas Tirith?"
"With luck, they ride with King Theoden of Rohan. I hope that he has answered the fires of Gondor and comes to our aid." Gandalf answered, and Inconnu questioned with a slight worry in her voice, "Why would he not aid Gondor?"
"Because Gondor had not come to the aid of Rohan," Again, that frustrated tone laced Gandalf's words, "And Theoden was bitter about it."
Inconnu nodded. "And you and Pippin arrived here ahead of them?"
"Yes, to make sure that Gondor could last until aid arrived."
"So we just have to make sure that Minas Tirith remains standing against the Morgul Host?"
Gandalf nodded and puffed his pipe. "Yes, we must remain standing."
Again, Inconnu felt the pressure of war begin to close in. Only now, there was no escaping it. The Wanderer of the Misty Mountains would stand with the Men of the West against Sauron.
She now fervently hoped that Er-Murazor would find her in the chaos of battle to come.
Chapter 3: Of Worry and War
"Worrying does not change the outcome, but it's truly so hard not to worry." - Unknown
I Miss You - DYATHON
Pale White Horse - The Oh Hellos
Minas Morgul - Shadow of War Soundtrack
Er-Murazor stood before the palantír once again, gauntleted hand upon the smooth surface of the orb.
He chanted again under his breath that spell to encourage to see what he wished to see.
That same white light shined from the murky depths of the palantír and he held the breath he did not have.
Soon the white color overtook the blue-grey darkness of the palantír and he was drawn into the vision of the one he wished to see.
"Behave Sverundr, we need to see how the new tack fits."
Er-Murazor smiled in the depths of his hood. There she was, Inconnu Naeril, and she was with the large stallion who held her in great friendship. She was fitting him with simple black leather barding, only decorated with silver discs. Sverundr occasionally danced to the side, away from her. The stallion was obviously unused to wearing the additions that barding had beyond the bridle and saddle.
"Stand still, you're acting like a child." Inconnu scolded him as she secured the cinch, then proceeded to double check the barding. Sverundr was still this time, only shifting on his hooves a little. After a few minutes, she stood back a little and looked it over from a short distance. Inconnu nodded, a small smile playing on her lips.
"There, now that wasn't so bad was it?"
The large stallion snorted and stamped his hoof on the ground, and she raised an eyebrow slightly.
"You look great in it Sverundr, I promise. Besides, it's a much needed upgrade and we should be thankful that they had this one lying around and that it fits you quite nicely."
The stallion lowered his head a little, and in response Inconnu rubbed his forehead.
"You're fine big boy, now let's go on a ride and test how well this tack feels."
Inconnu put her foot in the stirrup and in a smooth motion mounted the saddle. She shifted in it, and after a nod took the reins and turned Sverundr around. He now saw where she was, and easily recognized the white stone of Minas Tirith. Er-Murazor sighed, but knew that there was nothing that he could do about it. She was meant to be there.
Inconnu had paused and now looked out over the distance, but not at where the darkening shadows of Mordor, but more south. From the visions perspective, he could barely see the tallest spires of Minas Morgul. Er-Murazor then felt a heavy feeling in his heart and knew that it came from her.
However, his heart also reciprocated and with this the vision ended.
He lifted his cold, gauntleted hand from the palantír and it darkened back into its dreary colors. Er-Murazor stood there silently, heart heavy and his mind filled with worry for her. He did not want this for her, but there was nothing he could do and it pained him.
There was a heavy knock on his door and he quickly covered the palantír with the long black cloth before hissing out in the black tongue of Mordor, "Enavas."
The doors opened slowly, and there stood an orc. It stood there nervously, but managed to say, "Numbas Ni, your kalkan iuk nauk-adausan for lat."
Number One, your armor is ready for you.
The Witch-King kept his cold and still demeanor in the presence of the orc. In the safety of his mind and heart he sighed. The battle was soon to be at hand, and he had his own part to play. Without a word he walked past the orc and made his way to the armory of Minas Morgul. He saw as he passed the few windows there were in this place that the sky had now fully darkened. The world was quiet now, focused on the battle to come. Watching as both sides prepared for it. The full might of Minas Morgul and its allies were to be brought against the fortress of Minas Tirith, and it would be then that darkness would try and smother the light and hope of the Men of the West.
The Witch-King entered the armory, placing himself in the clear center of the room. He was surrounded by racks of crude and fine weaponry, the light of the torches pale and of little defense against the shadows of Minas Morgul. The orcs in the room then swept a black cloth covering a table in front of him, and there revealed was a set of armor forged especially for him. One of the many gifts of Sauron to his Black Captain.
It shined in the pale torchlight, engraved with almost graceful lines and the patterns almost reminded him of Numenor. Er-Murazor felt the sting to his pride, knowing that the design was on purpose and a game of Sauron's part. He was first stripped of the current armor he wore, and he noted as they took it away the unnaturally blackened surface and the damage it had sustained. Even this brought memories of his time spent with the Huntress of the North, and it took all his power not give any sign of the joy such memories brought him.
His sword too was removed from his person, but it was reverently placed along the table were the new armor laid.
The orcs then took pieces of the armor from the table, starting with his legs and shoulders. Once those pieces were secure, they moved to the chestplate. It was one of the heavier pieces for sure, but the orcs had little trouble in placing him in it. The Witch-King then held out his hands and the orcs fitted the gleaming gauntlets to them, securing the straps along his forearms. A new set of robes was placed upon him, black and made of a more expensive material. One of Sauron's indulgences, he assumed as the orcs placed the curved pauldrons upon his shoulders, securing them to the chestplate underneath his robes.
An orc then carried the helm of the armor, and he particularly inspected it. The helm looked so much like the one he wore when he had ruled Angmar. The main differences were that it was not so crude in make, matching the rest of his new armor, and instead of a harsh crown and spikes jutting out from the side there was a crafted crown of spires atop the helm. Five there were, the tallest at the fore and the rest shrinking in size only by a little as the spires strayed further from the first. The Witch-King himself pulled the hood of his robes over his head, and the orc oh so carefully placed the helm atop his head.
Another orc grabbed his sword and approached him, and he then made to place his sword at his hip but the Witch-King took the sword by the scabbard from the orc, making the foul little creature stumble back in alarm. The Lord of the Nazgûl, sword still in hand, glared at the pitiful creature before fixing the longsword to his hip, and then strode out of the room in purposeful strides. Not far was the area where the Fell Beasts were kept, and there he found his own. It was lightly armored, as it was expected that the Nine would find nothing to contest them in the skies. The eagles were, after all, being kept busy in the north.
The Witch-King then looked to the proper tower of Minas Morgul, and with a series of words a fiery power built up and then in a blast funneled around the tower, unleashing and revealing his true might of power. Minas Morgul in all its strength would now be unleashed upon Minas Tirith. The sickly green light of the Tower of Sorcery shot into the sky, melding with the black darkness of the sky. He watched the display for long moments, and then with a sharp turn faced his Fell Beast.
He mounted the beast and the creature shifted, adjusting to the added weight before muscles flowed and tensed. The Fell Beast leaped into the air, wings beating to gain elevation to the tall spires above. Soon the creature latched onto the secondary set of spires, glowing a sickly green underneath its claws. Unsheathing his sword, the Witch-king screeched and it was backed by his Fell beast as its head leaned down as roared at the massive citadel doors. With a heaviness they opened and from them marched the Host of Minas Morgul.
The Witch-King watched them march forth with a calculating coldness, the true demeanor of Sauron's most prized tactician. However, he still made an impossible wish under his breath as he watched.
"My heart, as much as I wish too look upon you again, may it not be on the battlefield."
He watched another moment, and then he had the Fell Beast take off from the high position on the citadel. They swooped low on the army, only a few meters away from the heads of the heavily armored orcs, and the creature hissed and snarled. The Witch-King's head jerked to his right. There was power there, it flared, begging for his attention, trying to draw him away to focus on it.
It was the ring his master sought desperately for, the reason why he was summoned back from his mission in the east concerning the Haradrim. He stared at where he knew it was, felt the urge to go and hunt down the one who held it… and he ignored it.
Let the ring come to Mordor, Er-Murazor had his heart to find. He found that more important than the one thing his master desired most.
Chapter 4: The Siege of Gondor
"Courage is like a muscle; It is strengthened by use." - Ruth Gordon
The Siege of Gondor - Return of the King Soundtrack
Grond, The Hammer of the Underworld - Return of the King Soundtrack
Ruins of Osgiliath
The Witch-King sat there upon his Fell Beast, the creature having taken roost on one of the many broken buildings. The once great river-city was broken, not a living soul left, having either fled to Minas Tirith or died in the attacks. All was silent, with the exception of the uneven footsteps making their way towards him. He did not glances towards the orc, named Gothmog and the most clever of his kind, who sought audience with him. The footsteps ceased, and the Witch-King knew that Gothmog awaited his word and he gave it.
"Send forth all legions," He hissed in that hoarse tone, "Do not stop until the city is taken. Slay them all."
His Fell Beast shivered beneath him, shaking its head and readjusting as Gothmog then asked, "And what of the wizard?"
There was a heavy moment of silence as the Witch-King stared across the Pelennor Fields at Minas Tirith, where he knew the wizard was.
"I will break him."
Gothmog then left his presence swiftly, and Er-Murazor was left to his own musing thoughts that were tainted with worry. Inconnu was there too in Minas Tirith, and there would be no helping the circumstances in which they would meet again.
Inconnu stood there in her new armor, standing next to Gandalf at the edge of the white courtyard as they watched the horde come from Minas Morgul. The armor was a mismatched set, Inconnu having picked and chose what worked and what did not. In the end, she wore a long grey tunic, the sleeves long and the bottom reaching the top of her thighs, cut at an angle so she possessed more freedom of movement. It also possessed a deep hood, and this she currently had up as she scanned the ranks far below the walls of Minas Tirith.
On top of that, she wore a shirt of chainmail that was also long, though nearly as long as her tunic, and the sleeves as long as the tunic's. Her hand were fitted with leather gloves, having refused proper gauntlets, but did wear braces as to protect her arms. Completing the ensemble was the dire wolf pelt she had won so long ago it seemed, and it had been draped across her shoulders in a mantle. There would be no doubt in anyone's mind that she was indeed the Huntress of the North, standing with them as the Morgul Host drew closer into the coming siege.
She tapped her right foot on the ground, releasing some pent up energy through the iron-toed boot into the ground. Her hand was firmly grasped onto the hilt of Ghosts Song, ready to unsheath it at a moments notice. Sverundr was also ready for war, but he waited for her call as summoning him to fight on the ramparts would not a sound idea. As much as he did not like it, the Mearas stallion waited.
Thousands upon thousands of orcs marched towards the white walls of Minas Tirith, and Inconnu watched them as they stopped. They were so close, and she noticed the catapults they had brought with them being readied. Inconnu, with keen eyes, also spotted a mangled and pale orc riding a dark brown warg to the frontlines.
'Must be the primary commander leading from the ground… I wonder then,' Inconnu paused in her thoughts as she scanned the fields and the skies above. 'Where is the Witch-King?'
Gandalf noticed the far off and searching look in her eyes, and took her out of her thoughts by putting a hand on her shoulder. Inconnu looked to him, and saw the calm look in his gaze.
"Put your worries aside Inconnu." He himself then looked back at the amassed armies. "He will reveal himself in time. This is his battle to lead, Sauron would want nothing less."
Inconnu nodded, and looked to the gathered orcs with their trolls and siege engines. And then, those catapults were launched and many small objects were sent through the air.
"Brace yourselves!" Came the cry from a captain on the walls below, and shields were raised. Inconnu and Gandalf backed form the walls and moments later the objects that were sent over the walls drove a blow to the courage of the men.
The orcs and launched the heads of soldiers, likely those that were once the garrison at Osgiliath. Inconnu felt disgusted by the tactic, but now the orcs had begun to throw boulders of great size into the walls of Minas Tirith, collapsing towers and killing many good men with each strike into the fortress. The people of Minas Tirith tried to flee from the destruction, trying to avoid being crushed by either boulder or falling rubble.
A voice then shouted from behind her and it startled her.
"Abandon your posts! Flee! Flee for your lives!"
Inconnu whirled around and it was Denethor standing there, a madness in his eyes as he shouted. The Steward of Gondor turned around as the men began to leave their posts, but was met by Gandalf's staff in his face. The man was stunned, and then doubled over in pain as the white staff whacked him in the stomach, and Gandalf then gave a final blow to his back, sending the Steward into the ground.
The aged wizard then look at Inconnu, nodding to her before shouting, "Prepare for battle! Hurry men! To the wall, defend the wall!"
Gandalf whistled a clear tune, and understanding what he was getting at Inconnu too whistled her own tune. Almost immediately came the bare-backed Shadowfax and Sverundr in his black barding. The wizard and the wanderer mounted their horses, and Gandalf again shouted to the men of Gondor, "Over here! Return to your posts!"
Both stallions pranced in place, the excitement of the battle getting to them and Gandalf quickly said to Inconnu, "Defend the northern side of the fortress while I take care of the southern side! Minas Tirith must last until Rohan arrives!" and then dashed away while shouting, "Send these foul beasts into the abyss!"
Inconnu unsheathed Ghosts Song and Sverundr galloped down the paths along the northern side of Minas Tirith, and she shouted as loud as she could the entire way, "Defend the walls! Man the trebuchets, send them back to the hell they came from!"
At the efforts of both Inconnu and Gandalf, the guard of Minas Tirith returned to their posts and began to fight back. The trebuchets were filled with the rubble of the towers and walls and were flung back at the orcs, crushing many.
"Watch out!" Came the cry and she and Sverundr nearly escaped a boulder crushing into the tower above them, mostly unscathed by the falling debris. Inconnu continued to ride among them, fighting to keep their courage alive and fierce. Another boulder smashed into the rampart in front of her and Sverundr reared in order to stop from falling into the new crater that had now taken the lives of more men. Inconnu whirled Sverundr around and they took a new path to reach the lower levels of the fortress.
Then she heard the screeching of Nazgûl.
They flew on massive black beasts, wings clawed and long necks like serpents. No, these were not dragons but surely they were just as menacing. Inconnu watched as they swooped down and with their large claws picked up men and horses, only to rise high again in the air and then drop them to certain death. Her eyes widened as she looked at the men around her, witness as they grasped their ears in pain at the sounds the Ringwraith's made. Such a sound struck terror into their hearts, but not hers. She had little time to think on this as she raised her silver sword high in the air and shouted, "Do not let them take your hearts in fear! Minas Tirith must be defended! Stand at your posts! The courage of men shall prevail!"
And this she rode to, calling out the men of Gondor and they gathered again at her rallying cry. Archers shot at the siege engines that crawled ever closer, a few almost to the walls themselves. Inconnu rode Sverundr behind them and commanded, "Take down the trolls! Do not waste your shots!"
The men listened, and soon two of the siege towers were stopped, the trolls that pushed them forward downed in volleys of arrows. There was no hope to stop all the engines however, and many landed against the high walls of Minas Tirith and platforms crashed down into the ramparts. This sent debris flying and the men were temporarily stunned as the orcs poured from the towers. Now the true fighting began, and Inconnu was drawn into it and Ghosts Song struck many a foul orc, sending them into death.
She lost herself in the fighting, the sword itself seeming to guide her hand with every strike and blow against an enemy. Soon, Inconnu found herself away from the main fighting and she had found Gandalf. The wizard glanced in her direction before striking down another orc and making his way to her.
"What happened?!" He called to her, and she called back, "We have lost a majority of the trebuchets of the northern side, but the fighting is not a harsh yet." Inconnu then also struck down an orc as she continued with, "And what of here?"
"The siege engines are mostly here, and so is most of the fighting!"
He thrust his sword forward, catching an orc in the chest as it tried to go for Inconnu. She shot him a grateful look before decapitating another orc coming from her right. Together they fought, pushing back the orcs and trying to prevent more siege towers from latching onto the battlements…
"Grond, Grond, Grond, Grond, Grond!"
The battles all along the ramparts took pause as the orcs down below on the fields started to chant, and Inconnu and Gandalf looked over the walls with concern. It was this same emotion that they saw in each other faces as they glanced at each other.
"Grond, Grond, Grond, Grond!"
Chapter 5: The Battle of the Pelennor Fields
"My soul wants to fly away when your presence calls it so sweetly. My soul wants to take flight when you whisper, Arise." - Rumi
The Battle of the Pelennor Fields - Return of the King Soundtrack
Tears of War - Colossal Trailer Music
Night fell swiftly upon the fortress-city of Minas Tirith, and deep into those dark hours came the Hammer of the Underworld.
Inconnu felt the stone beneath her shudder as the giant wolfs-head battering ram crashed again into the gates of Minas Tirith, and she heard Gandalf's cry of, "Back to the gate! Hurry!" not too far in the distance. She spurred Sverundr towards to shouting of the soldiers and the grey wizard, able to time each great shaking of the ground as she knew that the massive wolfs-head battering ram stuck against the equally great gates of Minas Tirith.
"Steady, steady!" She again heard Gandalf shouting, "You are soldiers of Gondor! No matter what comes through that gate you will stand your ground!"
Faster and faster she encouraged her companion until she burst onto the scene. Only in time, however, to see the fiery jaws of Grond break through the gates.
Sverundr reared slightly and neighed loudly, snorted and Inconnu guided him on the lower battlements. Cave trolls, three of them, dressed in armor and brandishing huge maces broke through the gates, swinging them fully open and the Gondorian soldiers backed a few steps away in shock and fear. Gandalf too had a look of alarm as the trolls finally noticed the soldiers and roared angrily.
"Volley!" The wizard shouted to the archers, "Fire!"
The archers there released a volley of arrows, sticking into the cave trolls and even one of them being downed the piercing of arrows into its neck. As it fell, however, the remaining two charged forward, swinging their maces and the other Gondorian soldiers put their shields up and lowered their spears to make a barrier of pointed iron. Inconnu's eyes widened when orcs followed after the cave trolls, rushing forward and engaging the soldiers in fierce close-quarters fighting. The Huntress of the North looked for a quick way down and finding none she urged Sverundr back the way they had come, searching for another way down so she could aid in the fighting down there.
Torches lit her way well in the darkness of Minas Tirith, as well as the fires that had been started by the Morgul Host catapulting large fireballs into the defenses of the fortress. Destruction only continued to grow as they rushed through Minas Tirith, trying to get down to the gate in time to help.
At the Main Gate…
"Retreat!" Gandalf was soon forced to call out, the feeling a bitter taste in his mouth, "The city is breached, fall back to the second level! Get the women and children out! Get them out! Retreat!"
Shadowfax danced around, the nerves of the people almost getting to him, but Gandalf put a soothing hand on the white stallion's neck. This calmed the Mearas a little, settling down with a soft nicker. The Gondorian soldiers were rushing people to the second level, trying to help as many as they could to reach the safety behind the second level gate.
The aged wizard snapped his attention to the one who called out his name, finding to be Pippin. The young Hobbit ran to his side, shock, worry, and fear in his face and eyes. "Denethor has lost his mind! He's burning Faramir alive!"
Gandalf's resolve hardened as he said, "Up! Quickly!" before grabbing Pippin's arm and hoisting him atop Shadowfax. He spurred the stallion forward, making for where he knew Denethor would perform such an act.
The Tombs of the Kings.
Gandalf and Pippin raced for the upper levels of the fortress-city, weaving through the crowds of people and the soldiers guiding them along. They entered the darkness of a tunnel, the path that would lead them to where Denethor was going to make a grave mistake, the light of the torches guiding their way. Upon leaving the tunnel, it was only moments before they were accosted by the sound of wings beating in the air and the growling of a fell beast. In reflex, Gandalf held out his staff out and prepared to defend against the Witch-King.
"Go back to the abyss!" He shouted, "Fall into the nothingness that awaits you and your master!"
The wizard knew, that if Inconnu's assumption was correct and that the Witch-King was indeed faking her death to hide her from Sauron, he would have to play along even though he partially wanted to call upon the Witch-King to cease and turn against his master. However, he knew that this was not the time for that, for the Chieftain of the Nine still had only a single tie left to the Dark Lord.
"Do you now know death when you see it, old man?" The Witch-King hissed, "This is my hour!"
The strongest of the Nine raised his sword and it burst into flame and magic filled the air. In the next moment, Gandalf's staff shattered into pieces and Shadowfax threw both him and Pippin from his back. Shadowfax pranced back and forth, frightened of the Witch-King and his mount but unwilling to leave the wizard to face him alone.
"Gandalf!" Pippin cried out as the Fell Beast then roared in Gandalf's face as the wizard looked up. The Hobbit then drew his sword and ran towards the creature, but it then roared at him and Pippin was frozen in fear. Gandalf then decided to take a risk, and shouted, "And what of Inconnu Naeril then?! What of the young huntress you have entrusted your heart to?!"
This caused the Witch-King to hesitate, the statement letting him know that the white wizard knew what had transpired between the wraith and the wanderer. The fires died out as he lowered the sword, and his voice was low and dark as he said, "Long since dead by my hands." The Fell Beast then began to stalk towards the wizard, its fanged mouth opening wide and a hungry light in its eyes.
And then, as the first rays of the morning sun appeared, a horn sounded in the distance and everything paused.
"What was that?" Pippin then asked in his confusion. The Witch-King's helm whipped around to face the direction of where the sound came from, and his shoulders were tense. After a few seconds, the Witch-King took a final glance at the wizard before urging his Fell Beast to take flight. It leaped off the edge and soared towards the vast fields beyond the walls of Minas Tirith, and Gandalf's eyes followed the retreating Witch-King.
"He is feigning it," Gandalf said to himself, "Find him Inconnu, and swiftly!"
On the Ramparts…
Inconnu heard the sound of the horn from across the Pelennor Fields, her head snapping in the direction of where it came from and smiled as she saw the sun dawning. Coming up over the hills were riders on horses, the metal of their armor and shields and weapons glinting in the morning light. King Theoden had arrived and had brought the full might of the Rohirrim with him. A large shadow then passed over them, a screech sounding in the air and Inconnu looked up to see a massive, dragon-like creature and a figure clothed in black astride it. A metal helm reflected the light from the morning sun.
With widening eyes, Inconnu realized that it was Er-Murazor, dressed for war.
Quickly, she scanned her area and saw that the orcs below had paused as well, and then she spurred Sverundr into action. The large stallion picked his way down, and after several minutes they were on the ground level of the fortress-city. They dashed through the enemy, hoping to take advantage of their shock at the appearance of the Rohirrim and get to the fields before the way out was impossible. She made it to the main gate, and with a small nudge of her heels, Sverundr leaped over the heads of several orcs to make it past the ruined gate.
"Stop her!" A harsh voice ordered, "Do not let her reach the riders!"
The enemy turned her focus on her as she dashed along the wall, the clearest spot for Sverundr to run through with the easiest effort. They dodged the orcs that made swipes at them and soon were too far out of range for even the archers that took shots at them. The Pelennor Fields were large, however, and it was not Inconnu's goal to join up with the Rohirrim. Soon she found a place where she had a better overview of the fields, turning Sverundr around so she could see better, and it was then that she saw the riders of Rohan charge down the hills and at the Mordor Host.
Her hunter's senses urged her to do just that as well, but she knew that she had to wait.
She had to find him first.
The Rohirrim, with their advantage as a calvary in a wide open space, destroyed the orcs that had assembled in time to form a defensive line. It was a brutal death to much of the Mordor Host, and after several minutes Inconnu heard the cheering of a few of the horsemen, but then a foreign horn echoed across the Pelennor Fields and in her ears. The eyes of the huntress grew wide as she saw an army of Easterlings, high up on their Oliphaunts whose tusks were barbed as well as their feet. War machines created by nature, and they were devastating to the Rohirrim.
Shouting reached her ears, and Inconnu then spotted a man astride a white horse, holding his sword high and his horse turning in circles.
"Rally to me! To me!"
It was King Theoden, she surmised, shouting a rallying cry so the Rohirrim could better face the Easterlings, but to her immediate shock one of the dragon-like creatures dived from the sky and in the next moment bit into both Theoden and his horse. It then tossed them to the ground, and both the king and his horse lay motionless as the creature then stalked towards its fallen prey. She then saw a glint of metal atop the rider of the beast, and in the next instant Sverundr was galloping at his fastest to where the creature and rider were. It was the Witch-King, Er-Murazor was there.
Now she had found him, and so she shall now reach him in the midst of this battle.
Inconnu unsheathed Ghosts Song as she approached the fighting, and then she was in it. Orcs were still plenty on the field, and she struck them down from both side of Sverundr. The large stallion also aided, trampling many an enemy under hoof, crushing them under his sheer weight. Far to her left, she saw one of the Oliphaunts fall to the ground, and she smiled at the victory as she raced for the Lord of Minas Morgul. An orc slashed at Sverundr's hind leg near the hip and the stallion reared to a stop at the pain.
Inconnu maintained her control of the reins and turned Sverundr as he reared to crush the one that dealt him the wound. She glanced at the wound, noting its condition and sighed in relief as she returned Sverundr back onto their original course. The wound was not deep, and though it bled it would stop on its own thankfully. They raced once again through the Pelennor Fields, taking the life of the enemy as they went, the sounds of war in their ears and the smells of death in their noses.
Then, she heard the death cry of a large creature and knew it was not one of the Oliphaunts brought by the Easterlings.
It was close, and she urged Sverundr faster until they came upon a spot in the battle where the combatants were given a wide berth. There lied the dragon-like creature, dead on the ground and its head severed from its body. Looking up, she saw a lean man, a rider of Rohan, facing off the Witch-King on foot. The Witch-King in his armor, bearing both his sword and a spiked mace on an iron shaft, exuded power and dominance, revealing an entity of age and frightening magic… the deadliest servant of Sauron. Behind the rider was the horse of King Theoden, and she knew then that most likely the king was trapped beneath his horse and his legs crushed by the weight.
The sound of wood splintering brought her attention back to the rider and the Witch-King, and the rider was now on the ground as well, clutching the arm that once bore the shield. Towering over the lean warrior, the Dwimmerlaik raised his sword to deliver a final blow.
"You fool! No man can kill me! Die now!"
"Not this day!"
The Witch-King was forced back as Sverundr charged in and stopped between the rider and the wraith, forcing a distance between them. Sverundr reared, neighing loudly and Inconnu held Ghosts Song high in the air.
"Go!" She then shouted to the injured rider, "This is not your fight! Go while you still live!" Then, without looking to see if the rider dis what she says, she locked eyes with the Witch-King and sees Er-Murazor in his place. His dark eyes met hers as she slowly dismounted from Sverundr, who moved back a bit to provide guard for the fallen rider of Rohan. Inconnu, in those few moments that seemed to stretch for eternity, was taken back to the day they first met.
Time had slowed then as well, as they took a good look at the other and developed their thoughts and decisions.
She did not get to continue though, as the Witch-King then moved on quick feet to her and swung his mace at her head. Inconnu ducked, shocked but it did not overcome her hunter's instincts. She stared at him with wide eyes, not sure if what had happened truly did. Then he did again with a backhand, and this time she stepped back out of its range.
"What are you doing?!" She nearly shouted, utterly confused as he struck at her again and again.
Each time he was harsher, and his expression was cold and unfeeling as he did so. Soon she was forced to counter with her own blade against his, and the screech of metal on metal during the clashing of the blades sounded like wailing laments and dying screams. They circled around each other, Inconnu playing on the defensive as the Witch-King's attacks grew stronger and forceful. Her heart broke a little more each time, unable to see the man she had known, had brought back, only a few months ago.
She sidestepped the mace, and with her next action brought the pommel of Ghosts Song down upon the hand that held the mace. The Witch-King retracted his hand as he dropped the mace in reflex. He clenched and unclenched it a few times, then used it to grasp his longsword and now wielded it with both hands. This made him far more accurate, and more powerful, with his strikes and Inconnu kept light on her feet to avoid getting hit by it. She sensed death on that blade and did not wish to know the consequences of getting cut by it.
"Stop this!" She begged him as she parried his dark blade. "Stop this madness!"
They now locked blades, crosspieces grinding against each other, and their gazes locked as well. Silvery-grey met brown that was almost black, and tears started to bud in the wanderer's eyes.
"Where have you gone, Er-Murazor?"
Her voice was weak with emotion, refusing to believe what was before her. Inconnu saw something flicker in the depths of his eyes, but it was gone as soon as her eyes had seen it. The Witch-King then shoved her away, forcing her back several feet and she nearly fell. She steadied herself on her feet, regaining balance as she eyed the wraith before her. Her breathing was heavy, and Ghosts Song still firmly in her grasp.
"Where have you gone?!" She asked of him, nearly screaming it, but as he had been from the start he was silent.
Again, he charged at her and raised his blade to strike at her. A sudden fire lit in her eyes, and their swords clashed over and over, filling their ears with the wails and the screams. Of laments and of dying. She still kept her defenses her priority, but now she also fought back, anger growing at how she had likely failed, that Er-Murazor, the man she had hunted down within the corruption to free, was gone and had been since he left. Inconnu wanted him back, though she did not know how to do that.
She then parried his black sword and retaliated by striking out with hers, and then her eyes widened as a cruel realization dawned on her. But as though time seemed to slow before her eyes, she could not stop Ghost Song, and nor could she stop the Witch-King throwing his arms wide and moving into the path of the tip of the Westernesse blade.
The Huntress of the North could do nothing as Ghosts Song pierced the heart of the Witch-King of Angmar.
Chapter 6: Of Sorrows and Healing
"The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind." - Caroline Myss
Come Back - DYATHON
The Houses of Healing - Return of the King Soundtrack
I Waited for You - DYATHON
Inconnu was frozen in place, staring wide-eyed and overcome with shock. She couldn't believe, didn't want to believe, the sight before her now.
'What had she done?'
'What had he done?'
Tears spilled from her eyes as he then gasped at the pain that now ran through him. It was then that she found her voice, and she too cried out pain though of a different kind.
"No! Please, not this! No!"
Immediately, she removed Ghosts Song from his chest and tossed the blade aside in favor of catching him as he collapsed to the ground. Together, they fell to their knees as Inconnu held him close to her, sobbing and speaking with a throat that was now raw from the shouting and crying.
"Why do this?! Why do such a thing?!"
Slowly, Er-Murazor lifted his head and noticing this Inconnu raised her head too. Tears streamed down his face as well, the proud Numenorean unashamed of it, and he then weakly lifted the hand that once held the mace to gently push loose strands of her pure white hair from her face. After that, he cupped her chin to make sure she remained looking at him, and he rested his forehead against hers. Her bottom lip quivered, and his thumb traced it as they remained like this for only a few moments, though they seemed to last just a little longer for them as they held onto each other.
Then he said in a heavy, but calm voice, "Lay me down, my heart. I am too weak to remain like this."
A fresh wave of tears trailed down her cheeks, but with a slow nod she laid him down on the ground. His hand now grasped at hers, gripping it as he brought it over to the wound and placed it flat upon it. Inconnu felt blood, living blood, as it seeped that dark red color from between her fingers. He was shaking, his form struggling to continue but she knew that it would soon give out. It had been a mortal blow, and she did not know how to save him.
"Free my soul," Er-Murazor spoke hoarsely, and Inconnu choked on her words as she asked, "Why, when you will soon be lost to me?"
His gauntleted hand gripped hers tighter.
"Please, Inconnu, my heart," He nearly begged her. "Do this for me."
Her head hung low, and after a moment the words came to her between poorly restrained sobs.
"Your soul is your own, Er-Murazor, just… just as my soul is my own," Inconnu choked out, her hand on his chest grasping at his robes, "My soul is yours and with it, I free yours from the corruption."
The Witch-King released a deep sigh, and then the strength in his hand that held hers was gone. Inconnu's head lowered deeply, tears falling down her cheeks and off her chin. Her body shook and her grip on his black robes tightened until her knuckles were white. She had never felt such deep pain before, not even when her mother passed on was the grief this terrible. The Huntress wanted to scream at the Valar and curse Oromë's name for leading her down this path as she stared at the body of the one she had been connected to since Fall of Arnor. This… this was not fair. Anger began to fill her heart, and then it was suddenly silenced by whispered words spoken in the voice of Oromë.
"Wait but a few more moments, my Chosen. All was not in vain."
'Wait for what-' and then, she felt the slow rise and fall of the Er-Murazor's chest under her hand. Her eyes widened, and when the movement happened again she leaned down to put her ear to his chest, hope growing in her heart. Not long after she started focusing on hearing it that she heard it. It was quiet, but it was there, the beating of a heart.
A man's voice shouted from behind her, and Inconnu shot up from what she was doing, and turning her head to look behind her what met her gaze was another of the Rohirrim as he fell to his knees. Then, he picked up an unconscious woman with wild blonde hair and with wide eyes the huntress recognized her as the lean 'man' who had initially fought the Witch-King. The member of the Rohirrim cradled her in his arms, crying and Inconnu knew the pain he felt in his heart.
Turning her head back around, Inconnu was met with the sight of Aragorn standing only a few feet away. His eyes looked over the scene, noting the discarded Ghosts Song and the motionless form of the Witch-King. Silence passed between them before Inconnu said with a raw throat, "Help me with him, I cannot carry him on my own."
"He is dead Inconnu," He told her with gentleness. "The reign of the Witch-King is over."
"Er-Murazor still lives! I will not give up on him!" She yelled, the fire in her eyes returning even as she choked a little on the words, "Now now, not while his heart beats for the first time after uncountable years of time."
"Er-Murazor?" Aragorn breathed out the name.
"His name, the one I gave back to him so long ago." Inconnu told him, "His mind is free, his heart mine, and now I will make sure he keeps his soul."
A silence stretched between them, and she saw Aragorn glance behind her before giving her an answer. "I trust you," He released a soft sigh. "We will bring him to Minas Tirith and there we will see if he heals."
"Thank you, my friend." Inconnu gave him a soft smile. "Thank you for trusting me."
Two Days Later…
Two days had passed since the battle for the fortress-city of Minas Tirith, and Er-Murazor had yet to wake.
He lied there on a large four poster bed in a room filled with the colors of Gondor, but a room more functional than it was decorated. It had been Gandalf's idea to do this, to treat the former Witch-King as a guest, albeit one nearly everyone was wary and suspicious of, and not as a war criminal. He had a knowing look in his eyes after he had spent most of his time after the battle in the vast library that Gondor possessed, and he had only emerged again after what he had found satisfied him. The wizard had been tired, but the smile on his aged features told that his mind was very active after he found what he wanted.
Er-Murazor had been removed from his armor and robes, those items sequestered away but his sword had not been. Inconnu has seen to that and kept it in her keeping as she dared anyone to tell her otherwise. He now wore a dark grey dressing gown, provided by the castle servants, the material fine and more than likely comfortable. Inconnu sat on the dark covers, her eyes looking upon the strikingly sharp features of his face framed by the incredibly black coloring of his hair. Her eyes held hope, and they begged for his to open and join the waking world. Inconnu had not left his side for during these past days, wanting to be there when he awoke as a mortal man, no longer a slave to Sauron's power.
Inconnu was grateful to Gandalf and Aragorn for aiding her and making their current situation less troubling and the path smoother. She was sure that they had filled in the missing knowledge to the others important in this war, and she hoped that the wizard's wisdom would help the others understand why they harbored the former Witch-King instead of imprisoning him. She sighed, rolling her shoulders to relieve the stiffness that had begun to build in them, and then a knock came on the large wooden door to the room.
"You may enter," Inconnu said loud enough to be heard to the individual behind the door, turning her head to see who would enter.
It was then that Aragorn entered, dressed much like she was in a simple tunic, soft leather pants, and boots. His sword hung from his waist, and a hand comfortably rested on it as he took a good look at Inconnu and Er-Murazor. He then gave a concerned look to Inconnu as he asked, "Has he awoken yet?"
She shook her head, the stains on her cheeks obvious from her previous crying. It would strike her without warning and she would be crying for a while before she calmed herself down again. Aragorn sighed, then walked over to her side and placed a hand on her shoulder. His presence was comforting, and he looked down at Er-Murazor as he said, "I know what it is like to have a great distance between yourself and the one you love, and I am lucky to have Arwen at my side now." He then looked at her, and an understanding passed between them. "Er-Murazor has you at his side, and he will not leave so easily with the bond the two of you share."
A sigh then passed between his lips as he then said, "There will be many out there who will wish to see him executed for all he had done as the Witch-King of Angmar. He is a war criminal in the eyes of many, and so defending his return as a living man and no longer on Sauron's side will be difficult. But, you will not be alone in defending him."
"I do not think I can thank you enough for all you've done for us," Inconnu smiled at him. "I know that not everyone will accept this, and I can only hope for allies to stand with us."
"Though you were never named among the Fellowship of the Ring, you were still our ally and more importantly our friend. We will stand by you and Er-Murazor."
A peaceful moment of silence passed between the friends, and with a small smile and a pat on the shoulder, Aragorn promised to bring back a meal in a few hours and then left the room. Inconnu felt better than she had since the battle and was glad to know for certain that her friends were still with her. She had yet to see Merry, Gimli, and Legolas here in Minas Tirith, but she knew had to be here for when Er-Murazor-
The voice was weak and tired sounding, though lacking the particular hoarseness of all the past times before when they had spoken, but Inconnu would always recognize the low baritone of Er-Murazor anywhere. Her attention was immediately on him, and she saw as his eyelids twitched for a few seconds until they slowly opened. Brown that was nearly black stared into silvery-grey, and in the hushed silence he slipped a hand from underneath the covers and reached up to cup the side of her face. His fingers were long and thin, and as pale as his face, but they were warm and no longer the cold gauntlet.
Her own reached up and grasped his hand, holding it close as new tears formed but these tears were of a different kind.
"Mura…" She whispered gently, overcome with the relief and joy of her emotions.
In the silence, they gave each other soft smiles and listened as they heard his intake and exhale of life-giving air for a little while.
"I can feel the air now," Er-Murazor then told her, his tone one of surprise, "I can feel my heart beating in my chest where there was once nothing, and my blood runs warm in my veins where it was once cold."
"You have returned to the land of the living," Inconnu replied, her smile widening. "No longer are you trapped in shadow."
"Truly, I am mortal again?" He asked almost breathlessly, and she nodded.
At this his hand dropped from her face and with it, along with his other hand, he tried to sit up under his own power. Inconnu helped him, making sure he was comfortable and he had a hand on her shoulder in order to keep himself steady. Er-Murazor took in a few deep breaths, slowly exhaling each time, before looking into her eyes again.
"Come closer, my heart," He then requested of her, and she did. Inconnu then sat at his side and having looked down as she did so she now looked up. In the next instant, Er-Murazor held her face with his hand, drew her closer and captured her lips with his. It was passionate, full of the life he now possessed again and she fell into it. Her own hand reached up and caressed the side of his face, eventually weaving into his black hair as her eyes closed. She noticed that his lips were soft as they moved against hers, and after what seemed like an eternity he pulled back.
Er-Murazor gave her a soft smile and love was in the depths of his eyes.
"I had forgotten how precious mortality was," He then said quietly, "To be able to feel another in truth… thank you Inconnu."
"You do not have to thank me with words," She replied as quietly, leaning forward and kissing him for a moment before saying, "But if we were to, I must thank you as well."
"For trusting me, and for loving me."
His expression softened, struck by her words and he then put his forehead against hers. They closed their eyes and for now, ignored the world and its troubles and dangers. Right now, it was only them in their small world.
Chapter 7: The Past and the Future
"May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears." - Nelson Mandela
Remembrance - Adrian von Ziegler
Sons of Forgotten Kings - War in North Soundtrack
The Last Debate - Return of the King Soundtrack
Inconnu and Er-Murazor had been resting on a lounge within the room, relaxing after the frantic late hours of yesterday. It had occurred not long after the former Witch-King of Angmar had awoken, being practically harassed by healers and Inconnu had a small smile on her lips by the time he had, one so uncertain terms, asked them to leave him in peace. Inconnu had smoothed out the ruffled feelings of pride of the healers, and they had told her that other than fatigue he was healthy.
It was good news, something that was sparse in the aftermath of the siege and Inconnu was glad to hear it.
Inconnu sighed, then closed her eyes and sunk deeper into his embrace. This caused the former Witch-King to cease in his soothing motions of lightly brushing his fingers up and down her arm. He tilted his head down enough so he could see her better, a thin eyebrow raised ever so slightly.
"Is everything well?" He asked her, and her eyes opened after a moment as her thoughts came to a conclusion she had not often come to realize. And then, there was a small smile on her lips.
"I am happy… I am well and truly happy."
His hand resumed it's soothing motions, a smile on his own lips. "Yes," He agreed with her as he further relaxed into the lounge seat, holding her closer. "I haven't felt at peace for thousands of years, not like this."
"Not like this?" Inconnu asked him as she looked up at him, and he nodded faintly.
"Moments of silence were all they were," Er-Murazor told her quietly, "Peace was a concept that had been lost to me longer than I can remember. With you, however," He then stole a kiss from her, lingering close even after to be closer to her still, "I now know what peace truly is."
They shared smiles with each other, private ones reserved for when they were alone. This was the interrupted by a knocking at the door to the room. Inconnu and Er-Murazor parted some, and Inconnu was the one who spoke first.
"Enter," She said loud enough to be heard through the door. It opened to reveal a young man dressed in servants clothes. He looked nervous though he tried to keep it suppressed as he glanced between them.
"You've been asked to attend a meeting in the throne room," He informed them, faltering slightly under the neutral gaze of Er-Murazor. "It begins shortly."
After a moment, Inconnu nodded and gave the young man a kind smile.
"We will be there, and I know the way to the throne room."
The young man nodded and left the room quietly. Er-Murazor and Inconnu looked at each other, staring deep into each other's eyes. A pair so dark they were almost black, and the other as grey as the dark mists of the Hithaeglir with flecks of shining silver. His were unsure, the hesitance strange for him and especially now that he was once again mortal. Hers were steady, afraid of what may come but would face it with him by her side.
"Will you be alright, Mura?" Inconnu asked him, using a shortening of his name that had simply stuck. He gave her that private smile, small but meaningful.
"I will face the judgment of the Free Peoples," Er-Murazor told her as he then stood, his hand now held out to her. "With my Heart at my side, I can face such a thing without fear."
Inconnu returned his smile and accepted his hand. Together, they exited the room and walked down the long halls of Minas Tirith. They didn't pay mind to those they passed by, those who stopped to get a second look at the tall, dark Numenorean and the lithe woman with startling white hair. Whisperings could be heard as they made their way to the throne room, but for now, they ignored it. It was not the time to deal with the feelings of the people. That would have to wait until either Sauron was defeated or the Men of the West were. Should the latter occur… the feelings of the people would not matter anymore.
Arriving at the tall and grand doors that made the entrance to the throne room, the guards gave them a respectful nod and opened the doors. They swung inwards, and once they passed through and the doors were once again closed did Inconnu and Er-Murazor see five others who were already in the room. Of those five, Inconnu recognized four: Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli. Er-Murazor certainly recognized the white wizard. All eyes widened at the sight of them, but they were first on Inconnu.
"I see you've made it back to us, Inconnu!" Gimli exclaimed with a wide smile on his rough face and Inconnu returned it.
"As though I could leave the saving of the world to this rabble alone?" She joked with a light laugh. Gimli chuckled in return, but it faltered when he fully focused on the darkly clothed Er-Murazor. The proud Numenorean stood beside her with a posture that said just that, and his expression as neutral as it was with the servant.
"And who is this with you?" The dwarf asked her, his tone wary.
Inconnu glanced up at Er-Murazor, giving him a quick and reassuring smile before looking back at those gathered. "May I present to you Er-Murazor," She told them with a smile, "The man dear to my heart."
They stared at Er-Murazor, and after a few moments realization dawned on Legolas and he said aloud in a breathless voice, "The Witch-King of Angmar…"
Only Gandalf and Aragorn remained unsurprised but Gimli and the other man in the throne room, who Inconnu thought she recognized from the Pelennor Fields, were certainly shocked at this revelation.
"He's the Witch-King?!" Gimli nearly shouted in his shock.
"What is he doing here?!" The other man did shout, almost drowning out Gimli.
Er-Murazor barely reacted to the outburst and the reactions of the others. It was Gandalf who reacted though, hitting the butt of his white staff against the stone of the throne room. It echoed well in the sheer emptiness of the overall room, and both the man and Gimli quieted down as everyone looked to the white wizard. He too had a neutral expression as his gaze was fixed on the Numenorean, but his eyes were keen and it was obvious that he was thinking.
"Let him speak, my friends, and let us listen to what he has to say," Gandalf said calmly with a nod to Er-Murazor, one that the Numenorean returned in equal measure.
"I was the Witch-King of Angmar," He told the gathered company, the sound of his low baritone not what they were expecting. "However, no longer am I a slave to Sauron's whims. I am simply Er-Murazor now."
Silence again spread between those in the throne room, but it was Aragorn who broke it with a direct question for the former Witch-King.
"What made you become one of the Nine?"
"Made me?" Er-Murazor questioned back, sensing something odd about the man dressed as a ranger. "I had become what I was through my own faults and weakness as a man. Hatred," He explained, "Hatred and greed for a destiny that was not mine led me down the path to Sauron and his promises."
He suddenly paused, but not out of nothing more to say but one for collecting his thoughts before continuing. Inconnu shifted herself closer to him, and he was glad for her support as he continued.
"Forgive me if my memory seems clouded on details of my younger years, but I remember who I was and what lead me to become the first of the Nazgûl. It was long ago, during the days when Numenor was strong and had yet to sink into the waters of the sea," He began, "I was the son of a Lord and a practicing sorcerer with great talent. The first part, however, I learned was a lie when I myself was a Numenorean Lord. I was, in truth, the bastard son of Tar-Telperiën."
"'Twilight Son'," Gandalf softly interrupted, immediately catching Er-Murazor's attention as the wizard continued, "You were born during a solar eclipse and with hair blacker than the night sky itself. Darker than what any other Numenorean possessed."
"I was," Er-Murazor confirmed, his voice edged with shock. "Where did you learn that?"
"I was curious when you were brought here after the battle in the Pelennor Fields," Gandalf admitted, "And here in Minas Tirith there are some records of Numenor and its people."
Er-Murazor nodded, Inconnu's eyes widened a little as this new information on the man she had saved to be very interesting. He then continued speaking of his history, and she listened with rapt attention.
"When my birth mother became the Second Ruling Queen of Numenor, my anger at being denied my heritage turned into hatred. I plotted to take what was mine, and that was the throne of Numenor. Nearly two-hundred years later, my opportunity came in the form of her abdication of the throne. It was to be given to my cousin, but once the abdication was assured I took it before he realized I had it." He then sighed deeply, fully breaking his neutral expression and looking tired. A world-weary kind of tired.
"My reign of Numenor only lasted a year and I could not keep my hold on the throne. I was chased from Numenor by my cousin and those loyal to him and he was crowned Tar-Minastir. After that, I could never return to Numenor and that angered me more than losing the throne. Not many years after that, I meet Sauron though I first knew him as Annatar. He gave me a ring of power I was too eager to accept and made promises to me that I was all too ready to believe. I helped Sauron into Numenor, and it fell. I did not care by that point in time, already far gone from who and what I once was. I was one of the Nazgûl and I was their king."
Er-Murazor then gave a knowing look to Aragorn, having now figured out why the ranger stuck out to him.
"I was no great king of ages past," He told the Dûnedain ranger, "But you Aragorn, heir to the throne of Gondor, looking at you I see a man far more worthy of the title than I ever was."
Aragorn gave him a wary look and then asked, "How do you know me?"
"I ended the line of Gondorian Kings," Er-Murazor answered in an even tone. "And you are no normal member of the Dûnedain. Seeing you know, I see why Saruman was anxious about your existence in the world."
"And why would Saruman withhold such information from you?" Gandalf asked, and Er-Murazor responded with, "Leverage it would seem. Saruman was never good at hiding his hatred of me, and perhaps seemed to think that if he hid the fact that I did not fully end the line of Arnorian Kings, he could use it against me at a later date for more favor with Sauron."
"Like a pack of wild dogs fighting for the last scrap of meat," Inconnu commented with disgust in her tone. A statement that everyone present agreed with, but then a troubled look crossed Gandalf's weathered face.
"Er-Murazor, what powers do you still possess?" He asked the Numenorean, and he replied, "I still possess the magic I had before I was ever a slave, why do you ask?"
"Frodo, the Ringbearer, has passed beyond my sight," The wizard answered as he then began to pace in the throne room. "The darkness is growing."
"If Sauron had the ring, I would have known," Er-Murazor stated calmly.
"But you are no longer connected to Sauron," Inconnu spoke as she looked up at him, her brow furrowed in both confusion and concern. Er-Murazor tilted his head down to look at her, and he gave her a hint of a smile. Nothing so noticeable to the others present.
"No, I am not." He assured her, "However I am sure we would all know if the One Ring was once again on his finger."
"It's only a matter time," Gandalf said in a grim tone. "He has suffered a defeat, yes, but behind the walls of Mordor our enemy is regrouping."
"Let him stay there!" Gimli huffed, drawing a smoke from his pipe, "Let him rot! Why should we care?"
"You should care." Er-Murazor tone was cold, causing a sudden chill in the throne room as everyone looked at him. "There are ten thousand orcs in the Black Lands, and they stand between your Ringbearer and the fiery pit of Mount Doom."
Shock overcame all those present.
"How has Sauron amassed such numbers?" Inconnu asked, her words filled with disbelief.
"Manipulations and centuries of planning," He replied grimly.
Gandalf had stopped pacing. "I've sent him to his death." The wizard said, looking very grief-stricken.
"No," Aragorn said loudly, breaking them from their personal thoughts. "There is still hope for Frodo. He needs time and safe passage across the plains of Gorgoroth. We can give him that."
"The Eye of Sauron watches everything in those lands," Er-Murazor countered, "Nothing goes unnoticed there."
"Then we draw his armies away, empty his lands, keep his Eye on us," Aragorn suggested, a cunning look in his eyes as he spoke with Er-Murazor. "That will give Frodo his chance."
Inconnu's eyes widened, realizing where Aragorn was going with this. "You mean to march on the Black Gate?"
At this, Gimli chokes a little on his pipe.
"We cannot achieve victory through strength of arms!" The man dressed as one of the Rohirrim exclaimed.
"Not for ourselves," Aragorn further explained, "But we can give Frodo his chance if we keep Sauron's Eye fixed on us. Keep him blind to all else that moves."
"A diversion." Legolas was certainly impressed.
Gimli sighed deeply. "Certainty of death, small chance of success…" And then, he had a fire in his eyes. "What are we waiting for?"
"Sauron will suspect a trap," Gandalf cautioned, "He may not take the bait."
"It depends on the bait," Er-Murazor stated, again gathering attention. He matched gazes with Aragorn, holding it steady as he finished with, "And I believe that he will take the bait you have planned for him."
And with a single nod of respect from the Dûnedain ranger to the former Witch-King, the meeting was concluded.
Chapter 8: The Light So Loving
"Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another." -George Eliot
Love Is Alive - DYATHON
The Palantír - Return of the King Soundtrack
Revelation - DYATHON
When Inconnu awoke the next morning, she was alone in the bed she shared with Er-Murazor. Immediately and with a near-racing heartbeat she sat up, looking for him and fears entering her mind. Her sensitive ears soon picked up the quiet sound of water, and she calmed down. Er-Murazor wasn't gone, just bathing and she guessed he did not wish to wake her. Inconnu then heard a louder splash of water and the muttered curse that followed it. With a small smile, she swung her legs off the bed, standing and then made her way to where the small, bathing room was.
Her bare feet stepped quietly on the stone floor as she approached the bathing room, the hem of the light nightgown given to her swaying as she walked. When she entered the room, it was obvious that Er-Murazor was distracted and not paying much attention to his surroundings. Inconnu's smile widened, and when she was behind him she reached around him and snatched the bar of soap from his hand. This startled the Numenorean, and he stared at her as she dipped her hands in the water briefly and then lathered the soap between her palms.
"What are you doing?" He asks her as she positions herself more behind him. Er-Murazor sounded both confused and accepting of this surprise, and he leans back into her touch when she begins to rub his shoulders as she replied wryly, "Saving you again it seems."
"You don't need to-"
"But I want to," Inconnu interrupted his protest, "Besides…"
She then slipped her right around him, her right hand moving down and laying flat against his chest. It rested right over where his heart was, and under her hand, she felt a scar. It was a little longer than three inches and paler than his natural skin tone. The scar was all that remained from the mortal strike given by Ghosts Song… by her. Er-Murazor's eyes widened, understanding her meaning and his left hand immediately reached up to grasp hers.
"It was not your fault," He spoke softly to her, guilt underlining his words. "I could not tell you what was needed. I wanted to, you didn't deserve to go through that pain, but I was forbidden to tell you."
"It was still my hand, Mura," Inconnu's voice cracked as she replied quietly to him, "I killed you."
"No." Er-Murazor's voice was firm, and his grip on her hand tightened. "You killed the Witch-King of Angmar, you killed a wraith that lingered so long in this world. In doing so, you saved a prideful man from his foolish choices." Here, he used his right hand to reach up and hold the side of Inconnu's face, tilting his own head to see her better.
"A man," He then told her, "Who does not deserve the heart you have given him." That private smile again. "I do not deserve you, Inconnu."
"You deserve everything," She returned his smile, soft and warm. "I can think of no one better to give my heart too, Er-Murazor. I fell in love with you all those months ago. I fell in love with the man I found trapped by the corrupting power of Sauron. I fell in love with you, Mura." Inconnu then pressed her lips to his, a soft kiss to further prove to him her words. Pulling back only slightly, she then whispered to him, "I love you Er-Murazor of Numenor, and there is no other I will give my heart to."
Er-Murazor stared into her eyes, into irises far lighter than his own dark coloring, and saw a man. He saw a mortal man in the face in true light, and in the presence of a woman who loved him. In the next moment, Er-Murazor brought her back down and kissed her deeply, finding that action would speak far more than any words. Inconnu accepted his kiss and reciprocated the passion he offered her. Neither wanted to part, their hearts the one and the same and they beat only for the other.
"I love you," He uttered against her lips, "And my heart will never love another."
When they eventually parted, Inconnu then slid her arms fully around his neck. She rested her chin on his shoulder, her nose brushing against his jawline and his smile never left him.
"You are going to get wet," Er-Murazor lightly warned her, earning a small laugh from Inconnu.
"I don't think I care," She told him, tightening her hold briefly to emphasize her words as she tilted her head up to press a quick kiss to the underside of his jaw. "How long have you been up?" Inconnu then asked him.
"Not even two hours," Er-Murazor answered her, "My early morning was spent in aiding Isildur's Heir."
"You were helping Aragorn? With what?" This was surprising to Inconnu, as she was sure Aragorn was as wary of Er-Murazor as it was the other way around.
"I was helping him use a palantír," He told her, his tone almost hushed when he spoke of the seeing-orb. "Your friends had gotten ahold of it after Saruman's death at Orthanc, and Aragorn wished to use it to bait Sauron. The wizard did not wish to use it, but I had no issue in doing so."
"You know how to use a palantír?"
"I do," Er-Murazor shifted in the tub, adjusting himself so he was more comfortable. "There is one in Minas Morgul and another in Barad-dûr. Before Saruman's demise and my defection, we used the palantíri to hold our war meetings."
Inconnu's brows furrowed slightly, thinking until she asked, "So with the palantíri, Sauron has been waging war on two fronts?"
"There were four fronts," Er-Murazor corrected. "For much of the war my former second, Khamul the Easterling, managed part of the war from the fortress of Dol Guldur against the fair-folk. However, he does not possess a palantír and neither does Sauron's pet sorcerer in the North. Sauron uses his palantír to maintain the Eye that sits above the tower of Barad-dûr."
"How did you use the palantír to bait Sauron then?"
"Sauron is always watching, and the sudden use of this particular palantír certainly caught his attention..."
"When I remove this cloth Sauron will answer with no hesitation," Er-Murazor warned the Dûnedain ranger as he held the cloth-covered palantír taken from Isengard in his left hand, "I will not even need to call to him."
"How come?" Aragorn questioned the Numenorean, and Er-Murazor replied grimly, "You are Isildur's Heir, and I was once his Black Captain. He will need no more incentive than that."
After a moment, Aragorn nodded. "Remove the cloth."
Swiftly, Er-Murazor removed the cloth as he steeled his mind. A quick as Er-Murazor said he would, the darkness of the palantír was filled with the fiery image of the Eye of Sauron. Whisperings of Black Speech entered their ears, furious as the Eye switched between looking at Er-Murazor and Aragorn.
"Long have you hunted me. Long have I eluded you," Aragorn spoke, getting the full attention of Sauron. "No more! Behold!" With this, he holds his sword up, revealing it to the Eye. "The Sword of Elendil!"
Sauron raged, the Black Speech whisperings only getting louder and becoming only more incomprehensible. Suddenly, a vision filled Er-Murazor's eyes and though it was brief it was terrible. Inconnu was lying limp on the steps of the Dark Tower of Barad-dûr, bloodied and tortured almost beyond recognition were it not for her white hair. But her hair that was once shining was now dull and as lifeless as her body. In his ears, Er-Murazor heard the dark laughter of the Dark Lord all around him as he stared in horror at the sight before him.
Sauron would punish him for his betrayal, and this was his promise.
Quickly, Er-Murazor covered the palantír with the cloth. Once it was again silent, he realized that his heart was racing and his breathing ragged. Looking up, he saw that the future king of Gondor was no better than himself. Aragorn was looking down at something on the ground, and following his gaze Er-Murazor saw a shattered necklace once on a delicate silver chain.
Slowly, the two men looked at each other and they knew that the other had also received a terrible vision. A deep understanding passed between them.
"He will not win," Aragorn said firmly. "We will not let him."
"No," Er-Murazor agreed, "He will never claim victory."
There was silence between Inconnu and Er-Murazor as he reflected on the experience and as she digested the experience he told her. Then, she hugged him closer and nuzzled her cheek against his.
"That vision will never come to pass," Inconnu assured him, "And I am glad to know that you are working with them. I was worried that perhaps your history was too much to look past for them and that it would only bring further trouble to you. Peace is what we need when this war is over, all of us."
This brought a new thought to the fore of Er-Murazor's mind, and he then asked her, "What do you want when this war is over, my Heart?"
"I already have you," Inconnu teased lightly, earning a small chuckle from him, "But I know what you're really asking of me." She then paused, gathering her thoughts before saying to him, "My mother was Lindesse of Osgiliath, and was the last pure-blooded Numenorean in the city. I have never met my father, and only know that he was one of the Sindar and he had left to aid the last king of Gondor before I was born. When I was ninety, my mother passed on from the mortal world, succumbing to an illness few have ever survived. I had wanted a father who was not there and a mother who could tell me she loved me, but I received neither and so I found solace in the Hunt. I have been the Huntress of the North for so long that I had eventually forgotten my wanting the love of another. Meeting you in Osgiliath changed that."
She released him from her embrace, pulling back enough to look at him. Her smile was loving and kind.
"I already have what I want, and that is you Er-Murazor. If I were to ask anything of you when this war is done, it would be only to stay with you."
"I would never ask you to leave," Was his reply as he stole another kiss from her. "I wish to see this war done with, to see it end so I can know that darkness will no longer follow me. Will you be there beside me?"
"I already am," Inconnu replied, her smile having only grown with his words. "And there is nowhere else I would rather be than at your side forever."
In the late evening, there was knock on the door to the chambers Inconnu and Er-Murazor shared. The two had again been resting on the lounge in the part of the room dedicated to entertaining social guests. After a brief glance at each other, Inconnu stood and approached the door as they both wondered who it was at this late hour. Upon opening the door, Inconnu's eyes widened.
"Gandalf," She named the visitor as she opened the door to invite the wizard in. "This is a surprise."
"Not so coincidental, however," The aged wizard replied as he accepted her invitation. When she closed the door, Inconnu turned around and found Er-Murazor and Gandalf staring at each other. It was strange, almost like a contest of will between the two but there was no ill-will as they inspected the other. Gandalf broke the silence first.
"I would first like to make my apologies for the outbursts of my friends yesterday."
"It was not entirely undeserved," Er-Murazor replied calmly, "But your apology on their behalf is a kind gesture and not unwelcome."
Gandalf's weathered countenance took on a more surprised expression, and he smiled as he then pulled out his pipe. With great care, he packed it with his blend of tobacco and lit it with a small spell. He nursed it for a few moments in the new silence, but there was no tension as Inconnu rejoined Er-Murazor on the lounge. In turn, Er-Murazor wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her closer.
"I must thank you, Inconnu," Gandalf then said, and it was Inconnu's fine features that adopted a confused expression.
"What for?" She asked the wizard, Er-Murazor's curiosity also peaked, and Gandalf replied, "For giving an old fool hope for a brighter future, that light can still shine in the darkest corners of the world."
At this, Er-Murazor came to a realization. "You knew," He said to the wizard, "You knew that she would lead me back to the world of light."
Gandalf nodded. "I had hope since I first knew of her quest, a hope that she would succeed. Hope that an act of true, selfless kindness would bring you back to the world of Men. I will not lie to you though and say that I also had no doubts, your reputation is not unearned after all, but seeing you at the meeting and speaking with you now…" He paused, and took a puff from his pipe before finishing with sincerity, "Welcome back Er-Murazor, Lord of Numenor, and may your future remain bright."
For the first time in the wizard's presence, Er-Murazor had an open smile, small as it was.
"With my Heart at my side, there will always be light in my life."
With a bright smile and a light blush on her cheeks, Inconnu then rested her head in the cook of Er-Murazor's shoulder. The pair rested against each other comfortably, and the sight of them together warmed the heart of the old wizard.
"And what will the two of you do, now that you are once again among men Er-Murazor, and you, Inconnu, now that your quest is over?" Gandalf then asked them. Their reply was quick, that decision having already been made.
"We will join the others for this battle," Inconnu spoke first, and Er-Murazor nods as he finishes with, "We will see this war to its end."
Gandalf, after taking a smoke from his pipe, nods. "Very well, I will make sure your armor is returned to you tonight Er-Murazor." He then gives a nod to Inconnu. "And I know yours is already close at hand Inconnu. We leave at dawn tomorrow."
And with that, Gandalf excused himself from the chamber, leaving the former Witch-King of Angmar and the Huntress of the North to prepare for when the Men of the West at last face the Mordor Host at the Black Gate.
Chapter 9: The Black Gate of Mordor
"No half-heartedness and no worldly fear must turn us aside from following the light unflinchingly." -J.R.R. Tolkien
The Mouth of Sauron - Return of the King Soundtrack
A week later found Inconnu sitting astride Sverundr, dressed in her armor and its hood was down. She had tamed her hair into a braid held together by a leather cord and it rested over her shoulder. Sverundr himself was again in the same armor he wore during the siege and the battle that had occurred at the Pelennor Fields. The large stallion shifted a little as he stood there, intelligent brown eyes watching the black-colored and menacing gate before them. Inconnu's expression was grim, shared by her beloved as well.
Er-Murazor was again in his armor, and it had been changed only slightly from what it once was. The finely made black robe was cast aside in favor of an equally dark mantle. It was plain, matte and it draped from his pauldrons and across the flank of the black stallion he had been given to ride. His crowned helm rested in the crook of his right arm, his left hand gripping the reins of his stallion lightly. Er-Murazor's long black hair was loose, several strands blowing the soft breeze that fell over the combined armies of Gondor and Rohan.
Next to them were all that remained of the Fellowship, only three members missing: Boromir, who was gone from this world, and Frodo and Sam who traveled with the One Ring to Mordor.
Before them was the Black Gate of Mordor, the foremost entrance into the Black Lands beyond. Both Inconnu and Er-Murazor could sense the darkness keenly, and they gave each other a reassuring glance. As long as they were together, the could face it.
"Where are they?" Pippin then spoke up, and those present were wondering the same of Frodo and Sam. None knew if they had made it to Mount Doom, or if they were close to its slopes. Aragorn looked at the Hobbit for a moment, worry crossing his face as well before it faded as he returned his gaze to the Black Gate. With a nudge of his heel, his horse started forward and without needing acknowledgment all went forth as well as Eomer, the rider of Rohan Inconnu and Er-Murazor had met properly during the march to get here. Merry sat behind him, leaning to the left far enough so he could see. Pippin rode with Gandalf, sitting in the front, and Gimli was behind Legolas.
All together, they approached the Black Gate and stopped only a few yards away. They were lined up, and all braced themselves for what was to come.
"Let the Lord of the Black Lands come forth!" Aragorn shouted, making himself heard to whatever was beyond the iron gate. "Let justice be done upon him!"
Another series of tense moments passed in silence, and then there was the creaking of the gate. It opened wide enough to allow a single rider through, and at the sight of who it was made the former Witch-King grimace in disdain.
The Mouth of Sauron had come, acting as an emissary from Sauron.
Er-Murazor was not the only one with such a reaction as the Mouth approached them, some of the others having varying degrees of disgust on their faces. The Mouth stopped not too far from them, only two yards or so. Close enough to speak without the need for shouting.
"My master, Sauron the Great, bids thee welcome." The servant of Sauron grinned, showing his blackened teeth. "Is there any in the rout with authority to treat with me?"
"We do not come to treat with Sauron, faithless and accursed!" Gandalf retorted, making the grin of the Mouth falter. "Tell your master this: the armies of Mordor must disband. He is to depart these lands, never to return!"
The scowl on the Mouth of Sauron twisted into a cunning smile after a moment, full of false sincerity. "Aha! Old Greybeard," The emissary of Sauron greeted the wizard, "I have a token I was bidden to show thee."
The Mouth the revealed a mail shirt, silvery white and gleaming in the light that dared shine this close to Mordor. It was made of mithril shirt, and those who had been with the Fellowship knew how it had belonged to. Inconnu was taken aback, a gasp barely stifled and Er-Murazor shot her a quick, and worried, look. The others were little better.
"Frodo!" Pippin cried out and the Mouth tossed the mail shirt to Gandalf.
"Silence!" The wizard shushed Pippin as he held the shirt in his hands, grief plain on his weathered face.
"No!" Pippin again, and again Gandalf hushed him harshly, "Silence!"
"No!" This time from Merry and Gandalf treated him no different than Pippen.
The Mouth of Sauron tilted his head to the side, then straightened it after a few moments of apparent thinking. Or perhaps listening to someone else.
"The Halfling was dear to you I see." He then commented, his grin malicious. "Know that he suffered greatly at the hands of his host. Who knew one so small could endure so much pain? And he did Gandalf, he did."
The wizard looked more so stricken at the emissary's cruel words. Everyone else also looked torn between grieving and wanting to harm the one who spoke those words. Inconnu's heart was beating fast, torn between those emotions as well. Only Er-Murazor looked remotely calm, though he directed a powerful glare at the Mouth of Sauron. And then, the former Witch-King drew his lips into a small, but confident smile.
"You are bluffing, decrepit emissary of the Dark Lord." Er-Murazor then spoke aloud, his words as calm as his expression, "Lies always were your stock and trade."
It was now that the Mouth of Sauron properly noticed that the once Black Captain of Sauron was with those who opposed the Lord of the Black Lands. His new grin faltered only slightly at this realization, but it was then hidden by an even wider smile.
"I see the traitor has returned! Come to beg for forgiveness?" The Mouth taunted the former Witch-King.
"Unlike you, I never had to grovel in the dirt for the place I had at Sauron's side." Er-Murazor taunted back, causing the Mouth to grind his foul-looking teeth together.
"You are nothing Witch-King!" The emissary retorted, "Mortal and frail as thou are now! You cannot hope to stand against our master!"
"Sauron is no master of mine! No longer does he decide my fate! I possess more in the light than I ever did in his suffocating darkness!"
"And what would that be?" The Mouth questioned mockingly, "The half-elven mongrel beside you, reeking of the Valar?"
Er-Murazor's free hand went to the hilt of his sword, more than ready to unsheathe it and use it against the Mouth of Sauron. He felt eyes on him, and looking to his left he met the eyes of Aragorn. The future king of both Gondor and Arnor then gave him a slight nod, telling Er-Murazor that he agreed with what the former Witch-King had in mind. Er-Murazor gave a similar nod in return, and he handed his helm to Inconnu for her to hold. She gave him a confused look as she took the helm, but it vanished once Er-Murazor spurred in horse towards the Mouth of Sauron.
The Mouth barely started to form words with his split lips when Er-Murazor withdrew his dark blade from his scabbard and thrust it into the heart of the foul emissary. He drove it up to the hilt, bringing them closer together as the former Witch-King then snarled in Black Speech, "Mat shal avhe darkneukuk lat mabaj uko preciouuk!
Die in the darkness you hold so precious!
Moments later, the Mouth of Sauron began to cough and convulse violently in his saddle, only kept on by Er-Murazor's sword and strength. Black veins then began to spread with alarming speed up his neck, his chin, his face and though tried as he did, the Mouth could not scream. The body of the Mouth of Sauron then suddenly stilled, and when Er-Murazor removed his sword the body crumbled from flesh and blood into a black-colored ash. The robes and helmet of the emissary fell onto the saddle and the ground. The armored horse of the Mouth barely reacted, so was the training for such horses ridden by Sauron's favorites.
Er-Murazor hit the flank of the stallion, and the horse snorted and returned to back behind the Black Gate. Looking back at the others now, they all had wide eyes that glanced between him and his sword. His own dark eyes searched Inconnu's grey ones, and though he certainly found shock there was no fear. It was unexpected to her, but she was glad he defended her, if not in the way he went about it. But she did not stop him, as his ire for the Mouth of Sauron had run deeper than the insult directed at her.
It had sent the Dark Lord a serious message, however. They would not make deals with Sauron, and no concessions would be made. The Men of the West would not back down, and Sauron would accept no less than complete domination over Middle Earth.
There would be a battle, here and now, that would decide the winner.
"I guess that concludes negotiations," Gimli stated plainly, and just as Er-Murazor rejoined the small group, reclaiming his helmet, and gates then started opening wider.
"Pull back!" Aragorn then shouted as he saw orcs begin to march through the Black Gate, "Pull back!"
Inconnu turned Sverundr sharply, everyone else doing the same, and together rode at a gallop to make it back to the gathered army as the orcs marched behind them. Inconnu could hear them snarling, growling, and others shouting in Black Speech. The clanging of weapons and armor were heard as well. Unsurprising to her ears, she also heard the far too familiar sound of a cave troll, and more than one. Inconnu shuddered, a reaction noticed by Er-Murazor but he did nothing, not until they were relatively safer with the gathered army of the Men of the West.
When they did, he maneuvered his black horse next to Sverundr. Then, he placed a hand on her shoulder, getting her to look at him. When Inconnu's eyes met his, he gave her that private smile in reassurance.
"We will not let him win. Sauron will not win the day, nor the hour that is at hand."
Her smile was smaller than his, the worry still clear in her grey eyes.
"I don't want to lose you, Mura."
Er-Murazor's eyes widened a bit, then relaxed and his gauntleted hand moved up to brush a few stray strands of her striking white hair away from her face. It then held her jawline gently, tilting her head up a little more so her eyes stayed on his.
"You will not lose me, my heart, just as I won't lose you. Believe in that, if nothing else."
Inconnu's smile brightened for him, and she then stole a kiss from him, her own right hand reaching for him and drawing him in closer. It was light, but it didn't to be more than that. It wasn't a goodbye but a promise, a promise that at the end of the day they would both still be standing. When they parted, they shared the same determined look to face this darkness so they could move on and create a future for each other. Looking around them, they say how many of the men gathered shifted in place. Nervousness was plain in their expressions as the orcs marched towards them. Inconnu understood, and better yet Er-Murazor had seen this before. Fear had been a common sight among the Men of the North. Seeing it here was not a good thing.
And it seemed Aragorn was thinking something similar, and he spurred his horse and rode in front of the men gathered along the frontline.
"Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers!"
At his shouting, they focused on him, paying attention to every word.
"I see it in your eyes, the same fear that would take the heart of me!" He accused them, "A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship but it is not this day! An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day!"
Aragorn then raised his sword, Andúril, the Flame of the West, and the men whom he led looked to begin to muster the courage their future king wanted from them.
"By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand! Men of the West!"
The responding cheering was a roar in Inconnu's ears, and for Er-Murazor his focus was on Isildur's Heir as he whirled his stallion around to face the oncoming enemy. There, he was certain he saw a king that Eärnur never could be. Aragorn could never be so easily baited and did not possess the weakness Isildur did. His heart was set firmly in the light and here he would not waver.
"So this is the courage of Men." The words from the former Witch-King were said in admiration, and Inconnu looked to him as he continued, "I had not seen this until Arnor had already fallen, but even then it could not be called even a rallying cry. It was only a final push to rid me from the North forevermore. What I witness now is what the Men of the North lacked."
"The Men of the West shall not fall so easily," Inconnu told him, her tone sure.
"No," Er-Murazor agreed. "No, they shall not."
Chapter 10: The Battle at the Black Gate
"The living soul of man, once conscious of its power, cannot be quelled." -Horace Mann
Claim Your Weapons - Christian Reindl (feat. Atrel)
The Eagles - Return of the King Soundtrack
The Reuniting of the Fellowship - Return of the King Soundtrack
They were surrounded on all sides, orcs and trolls and whatever other manner of monstrosity that made up the Mordor Host. Everyone not on horseback stood shoulder to shoulder, weapons at the ready. They all stood firm, gazes hardened as they watched the Mordor Host continue to gather in number, seemingly never-ending. Inconnu and Er-Murazor, still on their horses, kept their hands on the hilts of their swords. She had yet to unsheathe Ghost's Song, feeling that the time was not yet right. For him, his sword had been resheathed not long after the death of the Mouth. It would not be long, however, when both would leave their sheathes and taste the blood of orcs.
Being here now, Inconnu's mind wandered a little to where it all began. Back to the river-city of Osgiliath over a year ago...
It was then that she and Sverundr nearly crashed into another rider, one who was a dark blur initially. When she swerved and Sverundr was left dancing around the other horse, she looked at the rider. Inconnu had expected to see another ranger or perhaps a guard of the city.
Instead, she was face-to-face with a rider dressed in robes of black, and whose head was shrouded in the darkness of a deep hood.
Time seemed to slow down for the two riders, their mounts moving around in a circle as they got a good look at the other. For a single moment, Inconnu saw something other than the hooded rider, but a pale man who looked to be emaciated with a tall crown of iron upon his brow. It was a ghostly image, a being not fully of the physical plane, but there all the same. Hidden in plain sight. Then the gaunt look faded and she saw a man of black hair and lordly features, this time seeming as to be more tangible, but still just a wavering image over the physical form of the black rider. Inconnu was left stunned at the things she was seeing, wondering what this experience was and what it could possibly mean.
And now Inconnu did know what it meant. It meant finding the Witch-King of Angmar, finding Glorfindel's account of the fall of Arnor and his hidden words, and in the end, it meant finding the Witch-King again and freeing him from the darkness and corruption. And now he was here, right beside her as a mortal man and willing to fight alongside the many others here in the light. Inconnu stole another look at Er-Murazor, one he caught, and she gave him their private smile. He returned it, wanting to reach out to her again, but at the present time, he knew he couldn't. At this present time, there was to be battle.
Inconnu looked to the others she had spent much time with. All were steady, and then as though in a trance Aragorn moved forward, sword raised. His steps were slow, measured, and then for only a few moments, he glanced back at the others. Gandalf raised the mithril shirt, and Aragorn lowered his sword a little.
Inconnu had barely heard the words, and immediately after they were said Aragorn again raised his sword and charged at the gathered Mordor Host. There was a brief pause, men glancing at their fellows, and then they two charged into battle.
Inconnu and Er-Murazor then finally unsheathed their blades, one shining silver in the dull light and the other that seemed to absorb it into its black depths. Sverundr snorted and stamped his hooves until his rider urged him at full gallop towards the enemy. Er-Murazor on his own black stallion followed closely. When the Men of the West clashed with the Mordor Host, it was like ocean waves crashing against black rocks.
Here, the chaos that was battle ensued.
Blood, both of orc and man, was spilled instantly. Shouting deafened ears across the field. The sounds of weapons clashing only furthered the disorientation, and movement was everywhere. For the former Witch-King of Angmar, the battlefield was nothing new. He had been a part of the Fall of Arnor after all, his own campaign against the Men of the North. War was something he excelled at, and here he showed he could wield his sword as well as unnerving tactics. It also helped that none of the Mordor Host had forgotten him, and fear and spread once he had been spotted. The lesser creatures fled as fast as they could, whereas some were daring enough to challenge him head-on. Neither kind survived the poison of his blade.
For the Huntress of the North, the battlefield was not so new, but this was no less shocking and dangerous than the one at the Pelennor Fields. More was at stake here, a final push against the darkness that wanted to consume all of Middle Earth. Here, Inconnu gave no less than those she fought beside as Ghosts Song struck down one creature after another that dared to get to close. Replacing long days of tracking with the sure and quick strokes of her blade. Patience with the speed needed to remain ahead of her opponents.
One thing that did not change was the need for survival, and on the battlefield, it was an instinct that became only more aware in her mind. Sverundr fought as well, working with the subtle cues his rider gave him in the form of nudges with her heels and knees. More than one comparably miniscule orc was crushed into the dirt beneath his hooves, and many others toppled to the ground and made easier targets.
Soon though, the screeching of the Nazgûl was heard overhead and none were so caught up in the bloodshed to not notice them. They were astride their own fell beasts, all very similar to the one Er-Murazor had ridden during the siege against Gondor. Er-Murazor himself struck down another orc when he heard the cries of those he once called brethren. He looked up and a grim look passed over his features. His dark eyes watched them as they flew high above the fighting. Easily, he spotted his former Second and he knew that his former brother in shadow had also found him.
In the next moment the Easterling dove towards him, fell beast snarling and sharp teeth very visible.
In the moment after that, the former Witch-King of Angmar reminded the Easterling why he had always been their king.
Er-Murazor whirled his horse around to face the Easterling's charge properly, and as he did so he raised his infinitely black sword. He pointed it at his former Second without an inch of faltering as he muttered an archaic spell under his breath. A charge built up along the sword, the object he now used as his focus as the beginnings of lightning crackled along the edges of it. Only seconds that were spent, and one Er-Murazor was finished with the spell it released in a sudden burst of lightning. It streaked across the space between Er-Murazor and the Easterling, white and a faint blue all at once, and it struck the Easterling and his creature.
The difference between the cries of the fell beast and its master could not be told apart, and the Easterling quickly abandoned his attack upon his former chieftain. Er-Murazor's message was well received. Though he was no longer a servant of their master, he had certainly not lost his strength of power in his leaving. Inconnu, out of the corner of her eye, had witnessed the event her beloved and the wraith. It had left her shocked to see him wield magic that powerful, and she was as sure as the others that had also witnessed this that there was no doubt to the power the former Witch-King possessed.
Then came more cries, and again many looked to the skies. However, hope and cheers made themselves known when they saw what had come.
"The Eagles!" Inconnu heard Pippin shouting in the distance, "The Eagles are coming!"
The Huntress of the North had a grin on her face as she saw the great eagles of the north tackled the Nazgul and their fell beasts in midair. Cheers rippled across the field and smiles came to Inconnu and Er-Murazor. Both were brief, however, as there was still a battle to be fought. The Men of the West surged against the dark Mordor Host with renewed vigor. Though they were now backed with the might of the eagles, they were still greatly outnumbered. This realization did not deter them, however, not since the brave words spoken by the future king of Gondor. Still surrounded at all sides, the circle of those Men of the West grew smaller and tighter even as the eagles dueled with the Nazgûl in the dark skies. The Mordor Host pressed forward, eager to make the final series of blows and claim the blood and victory their master sought for millennia.
And then the earth rumbled beneath their feet. An aged groaning filled the air, striking confusion among the Mordor Host as the eyes of the Men of the West grew wider as realization struck them. All fighting stopped, the Ringwraith's fled broke off from the Eagles and fled back to the Black Lands. Those who were on the ground looked to where the Tower of Barad-dûr stood and were met with a great and terrible sight.
The tower which held the Eye of Sauron was collapsing upon itself, the Eye darting everywhere as though trying to find something. It was then that all here this day witnessed the sight of the Dark Lord's own fear. Er-Murazor's lips curled into a satisfied, and relieved, smile as cheering flooded through the battlefield. Looking over at his beloved, Inconnu was cheering right alongside their allies. Catching her eye, she gave him a wide smile and there was a brighter light in her eyes now. They both hear Frodo's name mixed in with the cheering, and taking a wide glance around them Inconnu then said, "He did it. Frodo brought the One Ring to Mount Doom and ensured its destruction."
"Yes," Er-Murazor agreed as Barad-dûr now fully collapsed under a burst of magic, ensuring the complete destruction of Sauron. A fate he could never return from. "It is truly over now, and the Men of the West have claimed a new age for Middle Earth and the Free Peoples."
The rumbling increased in the ground and soon began to swallow the Mordor Host as it tried to flee the wrath of the earth itself. Mount Doom itself erupted into a fiery display, and both Inconnu and Er-Murazor saw as the Nazgûl were struck down as their master had been. Evil was being struck down, but in the midst of this destruction, Inconnu caught sight of the expression of some of the original Fellowship. There was a great worry for the young Hobbits who trekked to the volcano. Fear of the very great likelihood that they had been caught in this destruction and hadn't made it out despite this great victory.
Two Days Later…
Thankfully, Frodo and Sam had been found and brought back from the slopes of Mount Doom. They looked world-weary, incredibly tired, and when Sam woke up yesterday, very hungry for real food. Frodo was still unconscious, and no one was going to begrudge him of that deep state of rest. Something that everyone needed after the final confrontation at the Black Gate. Again, Inconnu and Er-Murazor were simply enjoying each other's company as they relaxed on the lounge in their guest room within Minas Tirith. She rested against him, eyes closed as he ran his long fingers through her hair. They were both anxious: Inconnu for Frodo's recovery, and though he himself was also concerned for the young Hobbit, he had two other reasons to worry. Situations he knew would be coming up soon, now that Sauron was fully defeated with no chance to return in any form.
After several more minutes of this, the door to their room as suddenly flung open. Appearing were Legolas and Gimli, and when Inconnu's eyes shocked open she focused on them. Scanning their expressions, she then asked in a hopeful tone, "Is he…?"
Legolas nods as Gimli exclaims, "Frodo's finally awake! Come on!"
And as quickly as they appeared they vanished back into the hallway, presumably rushing their way to the room given to Frodo to recover in. Inconnu then looked to Er-Murazor with a questioning look.
"Are you coming with?"
"I am," He confirmed, "I owe the Halfling my thanks, and it would be rude to not congratulate him on his recovery."
Not too long after they left their room, the sounds of relieved celebration could be heard. The sounds of laughter echoed through the corridors of Minas Tirith, and Inconnu couldn't help but have a wide smile when they finally reached Frodo's room. Upon entering, the young Hobbit's eyes darted to the door and when the landed on the Huntress of the North he had a large grin on his face.
"Inconnu! You're here!"
Managing to get through everyone else, Inconnu managed to snatch a hug from Frodo.
"Of course I'm here," She teased, "Couldn't leave without seeing you make it to the end of your quest."
At this, thoughts started rolling in Frodo's mind until he came to a realization. Looking past Inconnu, he saw the tall, dark figure of Er-Murazor and he stilled a little. Noticing this, and knowing why Inconnu pulled back and stood before gesturing to the former Witch-King of Angmar.
"Frodo, let me introduce you to my beloved, Er-Murazor of Numenor."
Er-Murazor approached with a light step of caution, his and the young Hobbit's gazes steadily on the other the entire time. Once at the bedside, however, he dropped into a short bow as he said, "I am glad to see that you are faring better, Frodo Baggins."
Now stunned, Frodo managed to nod and then reply with, "I-I am glad to see you are no longer a servant of Sauron."
Straightening from his bow, Er-Murazor had a wry smile and tone, replying, "I think we both know who to thank for that." His hand then grasped Inconnu's, giving each other smiles only meant for the other.
With the exception of Boromir and his tragic passing, the Fellowship of the Ring and been reunited for this moment. Peace settled among them as well as with their ally in the Huntress of the North, and in the new one within the former Witch-King of Angmar. For this moment, they had no need to be anywhere else but right here among friends new and old.
Chapter 11: A Startling Reunion
"In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future." - Alex Haley
Elendil's Oath - Return of the King Soundtrack
The Passing of the Elves - The Fellowship of the Ring Soundtrack
Two months passed since the day the Men of the West won at the Black Gate, and a little less since the recovery of Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee. Minas Tirith had mostly recovered as well, a majority of the battlements and homes rebuilt and plans were already underway for rebuilding Osgiliath. Inconnu Naeril, using her influence as a hero of the War of the Ring, as it was now referred to, and as the Huntress of the North, help bring those plans into the eyes of those who could carry those plans out. Each time she thought of Osgiliath she thought of her mother and wondered at the state of the cemetery. She wondered if it was untouched or perhaps as ruinous as the rest of the city had become. Inconnu also thought it right to make sure there were plans in place for restoration before she left Minas Tirith for the northern reaches of the Misty Mountains once again.
The urge to hunt the dark and hidden things in that far mountain range was growing again, a feeling constant across the centuries as the Wanderer of the Misty Mountains.
An instinct Inconnu knew she couldn't resist forever.
In those same two months, Er-Murazor was rarely seen in the halls and streets of Minas Tirith. He was more of a ghost, a 'ghost of Numenor' Legolas once commented to Inconnu in the company of friends. Even he could sense the weariness that surrounded the former Witch-King. Inconnu, being the one closest to him and his heart, knew that was exactly why. Er-Murazor had been the Witch-King of Angmar for thousands of years. With that self-claimed title, he had a purpose as she had a purpose as the Huntress of the North. He was very much a ghost now, a soul lost without a purpose and Inconnu knew he was struggling to find one in the age of Middle Earth coming upon them. She knew, despite him not telling her. He hadn't wanted to worry her and she couldn't help but love him all the more for it.
It would come to head, Inconnu and Er-Murazor both knew, her instinct to head north and his sense of purposelessness. They didn't know when only that it would and soon.
But today was not a day for those dour thoughts. Today was an important day in the rebuilding of the west after the permanent defeat of Sauron.
Today was the day Aragorn, son of Arathorn, Heir of Isildur, would be crowned King of both Gondor and Arnor.
Today he would become the High-King of the Reunited Kingdoms.
The main courtyard was filled with the people of Gondor, of Rohan, and here and there were elves from Imladris, Lothlórien, and from the whisperings around her Inconnu learned that elves from Mirkwood had also come to witness the crowning of the first Gondorian king in nearly a thousand years, and there was even more time that had passed since there had been an Arnorian king. All who could come did come and were dressed in their finery for the event, and Inconnu and Er-Murazor were no exception.
The Huntress of the North had put away her furs and armor in favor of a long, slim dress the same sterling-grey color of her eyes and of the softest material Inconnu had ever felt. It was undecorated, but that was because the design itself held all the decorated it needed. It was modest at its core, covering up to the neck comfortable and down to the floor, and was long-sleeved as well. But those long sleeves left her shoulder bare and trailing down her arms to the wrists was a woven pattern that showed more of the pale skin of her Numenorean heritage. The skirt of the dress rippled like water all the way down, covering feet strapped in simple, elegant black sandals that climbed up her calves.
Completing the ensemble were simple silver bracelets on her left wrist, a plated necklace of silver that rested just below the hollow of her throat, and most noticeably a diadem. It was distinctly elven, made of silver in a plated design as well and inset with fine diamonds that hung from delicate silver chains. The diadem rested across her forehead, the securing pieces hidden in the thick waves of her white hair. As Inconnu stood next to her beloved, she felt uncomfortable wearing it not for its beauty and obvious expense, but for the meaning she was taking it for. Glancing around, she spotted Gandalf, from whom the entire outfit, and in particular the diadem, had been a gift from in tandem with the Fellowship as thanks for her aid, and he caught her gaze with a wink before continuing to go about his previous business. Inconnu eyes narrowed briefly, certain that the white wizard was up to something, before feeling Er-Murazor's hand upon her shoulder. Looking up to him in reaction, he then saw the concern she had and asked, "What is it, my heart?"
She relaxed as she responded with, "He's up to something."
Er-Murazor looked over her, and upon spotting the wizard a small smile twitched at the corners of his mouth. "I suppose he would have a few more tricks he has yet to reveal." He said as he then refocused on her. Inconnu smiled in return.
"All wizards must have their tricks, don't they?"
"It seems so," He agreed, returning a more complete smile. Pausing for a moment, he then reached for her face with his other hand. With the greatest care, Er-Murazor brushed a loose strand of hair back behind her ear, his fingertips lightly brushed over the pointed end of it as he did so. The diadem encouraged her to show her ears, the proof of her elven heritage and though she felt no shame in showing them, she did not know how to feel about very obviously displaying them either.
"You are a vision, my heart," Er-Murazor spoke softly, words only for her to hear. Inconnu caught his hand in her own when it retreated, interlocking them at the fingers. She kissed them, a soft smile on her lips.
"And you are quite handsome, so we must compliment each other perfectly then," Inconnu commented with her smile, and with a light tone of humor as well.
Er-Murazor gave a small chuckle himself. "We must indeed."
His own attire for the event had been a joint gift from Aragorn and Gandalf and, apparently, it had been no small effort to find. As Minas Tirith had ancient records from Numenor, it too held artifacts from the island that sunk thousands of years ago into the sea. Er-Murazor wore robes that had been near-perfectly preserved, with no small thanks to smart enchantments, and was nearly as black as his own long hair. These were the robes of nobility, the black color edged in clever silver, bringing more light and depth to the cloth. His hands were bare, enjoying the ability to feel without the barrier of gloves. He refused to wear even a single ring as well, and those who knew who he had been before were aware of exactly why that was.
Er-Murazor stood there next to Inconnu as the perfect visual contrast, and yet they acted around each other as it was the most natural thing for them to do so. And it was for them, to act as two halves of a whole. This had not gone unnoticed, as certainly it was impossible to do so in this crowd, but the pair kept to themselves as were content to do so until the time of coronation was to be had. They did not have to wait long, for the trumpets sounded as Aragorn appeared in the dark-blue and silver finery of a Gondorian king. The white tree that now bloomed pretty flowers were embroidered on his chest and the sword remade, Andúril, the Flame of the West, rested at his hip and his hand comfortably upon it. Here, now, Isildur's Heir was every inch the king he was meant to be.
He stood there before the entrance to the main hall of Minas Tirith, and when Gandalf appears with the crown of Gondor he kneels to accept his kingship. The white wizard places the crown upon his head, smiling with pride as he announces to the crowd, "Now come the days of the King! May they be blessed!" and when he moved back Aragorn stood, now crowned as Elessar. There is clapping and cheering, Inconnu among them and Er-Murazor looking on with approval and respect. When Aragorn speaks, the people quiet to listen.
"This day does not belong to one man, but to all! Let us together rebuild this world, that we may share in the days of peace!"
The clapping and cheering resumed with more fervor as he then walked down the steps to move amongst his people and his friends. Inconnu and Er-Murazor bowed as he passed by as everyone else did, respecting his rightful kingship. The elves from each elvendom approached Aragorn, and he puts a hand on Legolas' shoulder in thanks. He also says something that Inconnu couldn't hear but assumes that he verbally gave his thanks to the elven prince. Legolas smiles and indicates to something behind his friend, and turning around he sees a banner with the white tree upon it, and revealed from behind the banner is Arwen dressed in elven finery and a soft, loving expression on her face as she looks at Aragorn. Her father, Lord Elrond, whispers some to her before taking the banner and she then approaches Aragorn.
Inconnu and Er-Murazor are immediately reminded of themselves when Aragorn tenderly takes Arwen's chin, lifting it up before taking her in his arms and spinning her around as they kissed passionately. The crowd erupts into more clapping and cheering, and Inconnu noted as she clapped that there would certainly be a wedding soon. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that Aragorn would take her as his queen. Walking hand in hand, the royal couple approached the young Hobbits, all four standing in a line and watching with happy expressions. They bow to Aragorn and Arwen, but Aragorn speaks, causing them to look up at him.
"My friends, you bow to no one."
The lift from their bows, confused expression on the faces until shock overcomes them when Aragorn and Arwen kneel to them. This causes all those in the courtyard to do the same, and Frodo, looking quite uncomfortable, spots Inconnu and Er-Murazor doing the same. Inconnu looks up slightly, however, meeting the young Hobbit's eyes and give him a small nod and a smile. At this, Frodo relaxes just enough and this lasts as everyone then stand again. Now, it was time for the celebration to properly unfold and the grand doors that led to the main hall of Minas Tirith open to greet the many guests for the feast that was to be had.
Though the feast was still being had and much underway, dancing had now begun on the main floor. Aragorn and Arwen were the first couple, starting the event and performed elegantly as they crossed the space made for them. A few turns around the room and Aragorn caught Er-Murazor's eye as Arwen did to Inconnu. It took the Huntress of the North longer did the former Witch-King of Angmar to know what they were asking. Taking the cue, Er-Murazor took Inconnu by the arm and started leading her to the floor. Realizing what he meant to do, Inconnu looked to lightly protest, managing, "Mura!" but the rest died on her lips as she saw the look in his eyes. There was a light in the depths of them she hadn't seen before, and for a moment she thought this was a different version of her beloved.
He looked in his element… he looked carefree and enjoying himself, and not just for her benefit.
'This might be what he was like before,' She supposed in her thoughts, 'Back in the days of Numenor, and possibly even before he knew he was a bastard of the future Ruling Queen.'
It was then decided that her protest would remain dead, and in the next moment a hand was at her waist, her hand resting on that arm, and his other grasping her free hand. As it was for this dance, he led her even as he followed the motions Aragorn and Arwen set for them. It was quite apparent he knew this dance well, or a least a similar one, as Inconnu found herself not worrying about her lack of knowledge concerning dancing. All she had to do was trust him even as her inner thoughts thanked the stars for the sense of balance her elven heritage had given her. Inconnu's smile was bright nonetheless as they danced, not even noticing when others joined in succession. Not even when the world around them was flashed of brightly colored cloth and shining jewelry. All Inconnu saw was Er-Murazor as he smiled at her and for those moments all was at peace.
However, as they danced Inconnu caught flashes of white in the crowd, among the individuals who decided not to join in the dance or those who retired from it early. At first, she thought it was cloth, quite a few guests were wearing the color after all, but the assumption was quickly thrown out after the next few times. It was hair, far straighter than her own and much longer from the glimpses she got as it moved. And it was moving, for she never spotted it in the same place twice. Her instincts told her she was being hunted but it was of a far lesser degree. Inconnu came to the conclusion that she was being sought even though she could think of no reason why that would be. Throughout all this, Er-Murazor caught on to her thinking and made his own glances around, but he himself saw nothing out of the normal. He was not seeing what she was seeing, and in response to this he leaned down to her ear and whispered, "What is wrong?"
Inconnu refocused on him, then whispered back, "Someone is looking for me, but is having trouble getting to me."
Er-Murazor's brow furrowed slightly, certainly concerned, as he then asked, "What do you want to do then, my heart?"
She thought on that for a moment, and when she came to a decision she tilted her head slightly to an opening in the crowd. The path led to the main courtyard, and though massive, most of the guests were inside the main hall. A decreased chance of being disturbed. Er-Murazor nodded and naturally guided them to the outer ring of dancing, only stopping after another full round and effectively, but so completely, disappearing into the crowd and towards the main courtyard, her arm in his. Inconnu was on high alert, but she kept that perception hidden as she didn't want to startle any guests. It wasn't a bad situation she was going to confront, but it was an unknown one and that had its own apprehensions attached. Inconnu walked with Er-Murazor to the far left edge of the courtyard, providing them with a view of the lower levels of Minas Tirith and the Pelennor Fields beyond the capital's walls.
Inconnu smiled at the signs of reconstruction, bringing the fortress-city back how she had first seen it many centuries ago, and how it was when she first walked its streets only two years ago. It was an excellent distraction from appearing wary. In opposition, Er-Murazor gave off an aura of wariness and there was nothing to distract him from it. She moved her hand to hold his, linking them as their arms were. His hand gripped hers, herself returning the gesture, and he relaxed. This wasn't to last long, however, as someone approached them with light steps and their own hesitance.
Turning to see who had approached them, Inconnu was then stunned from speaking when she laid eyes in the individual before her. He was very much an elf, tall and lithe, and dressed as the elves from Mirkwood were. His features were that of all elves, timeless as immortals were, but there was a tiredness in eyes of sterling silver as they met her own. However, they brightened just a little, silver flecks almost like stars, as they took in her appearance and features. But, and most importantly to Inconnu, his hair was the same startling white as her own, though straight and fell several inches past his shoulders.
She had seen him before in the forges of Arthedain, in the vision Ghosts Song had imparted to her.
Realizing that they were simply staring at each other, Inconnu shook her head a little to clear her shock before replying in a kind tone, "I am Inconnu Naeril, and may I ask who it is that asks after me?"
It looked like the elven man also brought himself out of his own shock, his eyes brightening with what Inconnu now recognized as hope as he introduced himself with a low bow. "I am Megilan-uial of the Sindar, though I now take sanctuary within Mirkwood with my distant kin under the grace of King Thranduil."
Of the Sindar. The only information her mother ever told her about her father was that he was of the Sindar but it couldn't be… a sudden and strange feeling of having to know gripped her. Before he could speak again she simply let slip, "Did you know a Lindesse of Osgiliath?" The delivery of the question had been crude, something that would most people, but his reaction was just as startling as her question.
In the next moment, Inconnu felt Er-Murazor loosen his hand from hers as she was pulled forward into the sudden embrace from Megilan-uial. His arms were wrapped tightly around her, as if afraid if he let go she would disappear. The reason why became as plain as the rising moon on the horizon as he said softly with a mix of relief and sorrow in his voice, "I remember your mother, Inconnu. I remember her."
Inconnu still couldn't find words to speak, and simply ended up embracing her newly-found father and tears began to streak down her face. It was a while before she could find words to speak, and she pulled away enough in order to be heard clearly. Despite this, however, her voice was choked with emotion.
"Where were you?"
If it were possible, Megilan-uial looked even more sorrowful at the question. He raised a hand to gently wipe away a new tear as he replied, "I had gone to aid the Men of the West in Minas Tirith the same year you were born, though I had not known until Lindesse sent a letter to me later that year." He smiled when he spoke her mother's name, a reaction far different than hers when she remembered the same woman. Inconnu understood why her mother became more distant towards her daughter as Inconnu became older, but now she wondered what she was like before- what she was like with Megilan-uial.
"You look so much like her," Her father then spoke, bringing her out of those wonderings. "You have her same look of nobility, something all Numenoreans possessed before their home was claimed by the sea." He then took a lock her white hair, a pure as his own, as he continued, "But I see that you inherited the grace of my people as well as my hair and eyes."
Megilan-uial's gaze became filled with sorrow again, though not nearly as prevailing as before, as his fingers released her hair.
"I am so happy to have found my beautiful daughter at last when I have spent so long in sorrow and grief."
It was here that Inconnu showed her own hesitance more openly. She hadn't been addressed as kin for centuries, and to be called 'daughter" now left her feeling unsure of her place. Inconnu was still the Huntress of the North, the Wanderer of the Misty Mountains, and more recently a hero of the War of the Ring, but to be called 'daughter' by her newly-found father...
Er-Murazor carefully put his hand on her shoulder, his grip light and his fingers stiff. This caused her to look back at her beloved, and she found him standing incredibly still, eyes focused on Megilan-uial. In his dark-colored gaze, she saw his own level of shock. It was understandable, as the appearance and reveal of her father shocked her as well, but she could find no reason for the sheer level he was showing her. Something was wrong and it appeared only her beloved knew what it was. There was no fear, however, for himself but when Er-Murazor briefly met her gaze she saw fear for her.
It now came to her that she did not know how her newly-found father would react towards Er-Murazor, and she fought within her mind to think of a solution to ease the introduction, but then Megilan-uial had already spoken.
"And who is your companion, daughter?"
Inconnu released a quiet sigh, then stepped back into Er-Murazor, effectively breaking Megilan-uial's embrace fully. She leaned against Er-Murazor's shoulder in a show of affection and familiarity as she then introduced him to her father.
"Father," The word was strange on her tongue, "May I present to you my beloved, Er-Murazor of Numenor."
Inconnu reached down and grasped Er-Murazor's hand in her own, intertwining their fingers to further prove their relationship. She kept their gaze on their hands as well, unable to bring herself to look at her father, anxious thoughts steadily making themselves known. It was too quiet for her, and then that sense of something right reached a new, sudden height and Inconnu forced herself to look at Megilan-uial. There was indeed shock, but then it became something far worse as the seconds passed.
It became a fear, a horrifying recognition, that looked very much rooted deep in her father's memories.
"The Witch-King of Angmar…" His words were breathless and weak, and a pit formed in Inconnu's stomach.
Somehow, somewhere, her beloved and her father had come across each other- Inconnu then cursed herself for not seeing it sooner. The vision had shown him in Arnor making Westernesse blades, placing him during the time the Witch-King was conquering and bringing ruin to the North. Megilan-uial had told her he left the year she was born for Minas Tirith to help the Men of the West, and the only major event that was happening was the Siege of Minas Ithil. That had been led by the Witch-King as well, having fallen the day she was born. Her mother had said as much to her. Inconnu continued to silently curse herself for her lapse in perception in her shock in meeting Megilan-uial, and now she didn't know what to do, much less what to say.
"Formerly. I am simply Er-Murazor now and I have been for some time."
The words were spoken neutrally, and wonderfully so considering the now growing tension in their small group, but it achieved nothing as Megilan-uial put away his fear in favor of anger.
"You died on the Pelennor Fields!" The elven man accused him, and it was here that Inconnu put aside her uncertainty for the certainty of her love for Er-Murazor. A conviction that was not to be shaken, even in the face of her father's fear and anger.
"The Witch-King did die," She spoke firmly, remembering Er-Murazor's words to her, "Er-Murazor lives free as any man in the world of light."
The anger died in the shock Megilan-uial felt in the face of her defense, the emotion feeding into his voice.
"You defend this creature?"
Inconnu's own sterling-grey gaze narrowed at the crude reference and replied in a tone that brokered no further continuing of the conversation.
"I defend the man who holds my heart as no other shall."
Inconnu left Megilan-uial there in the main courtyard, stunned into silence despite his efforts to find words to speak. Er-Murazor followed, still holding onto her hand but his grip was gentle. Inconnu craved the comfort he was offering, but she refused to give in to the prickling of tears and the hoarseness of crying until the back in their quarters and in the safety of their privacy. Only then did she let him pull her into his embrace and whisper comforting little nothings into her ear as she sobbed her worries and fears.
After all, she now believed she had lost the father she had only just found.
Inconnu placed no blame on Er-Murazor, and none on herself beyond not noticing sooner, and so the only thing to do was cry until there were no more to be shed. Then she would worry about the unknown of tomorrow and of Megilan-uial.
For now, it was just her and Er-Murazor.
Chapter 12: Where To Stand
"You were unsure which pain is worse - the shock of what happened or the ache for what never will." - Simon Van Booy
Feast of Starlight - The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug [Extended Edition]
Inconnu was solemn as she ran the whetstone down the length of Ghosts Song. Sitting on a stool next to Sverundr's stall in the stables located on the lowest level of Minas Tirith, she was quiet in caring for the Westernesse blade. Sverundr too was quiet, though munched on his serving of hay while keeping one eye focused on his rider. He was worried, but unlike most other times he knew she would manage to work herself through what was troubling her. However, Inconnu herself was unsure of the solution concerning her father.
Megilan-uial was as unknown as any stranger would be, but was also frustratingly familiar as kin should be. As much as she wanted that familial connection of father and daughter, it was opposed by the new resentment of his absence and his clear rejection of her beloved. It was conflicting, wanting both but knowing that it was unlikely that Megilan-uial and Er-Murazor would ever get along.
The sliding of the whetstone paused, causing Sverundr to raise his head a few inches.
Inconnu knew that something terrible occurred between her beloved and her father. An event so horrible that it certainly left horrible scars in her father's memory - scars so deep that he could recognize the Witch-King of Angmar who was now mortal and had shed off Sauron's darkness from his very being. It surprised her how easily she had forgotten that he was Chieftain of the Nine not so long ago, second only the Dark Lord himself and his most cunning servant. She sighed, wondering the worth of those thoughts as she returned to sharpening her sword and Sverundr to his feed.
However, this silence only lasted a few minutes more before Sverundr's ears flicked a little. Enough to alert his rider to the sound of cautious footsteps. Entering the stables was none other than Megilan-uial, looking uncertain as she felt when she looked up from Ghosts Song. Sterling-grey eyes stared at each other in silence, but it would be Megilan-uial who would break it.
"Where is your heart?"
"With him," She responded with a lack of hesitation, and he sighed lightly.
"And where is he?"
"He wished to explore some parts of Minas Tirith, and I needed to care for my sword."
Megilan-uial looked down at the Westernesse blade, and his uncertain expression changed into one of shock.
"Ghosts Song… never had I thought I would lay eyes on it again."
"What do you mean?"
"It was lost when I rode with the last king of Gondor, Eärnur the First, and his knights to Minas Morgul."
It was plain to see how much time had affected him, a feature only the oldest elves truly possessed from having lived so long and seen much. And he looked greatly saddened by that fact as he pulled up another stool to sit on, though keeping a respectful distance between them. Gently, Inconnu set aside the whetstone and Ghosts Song.
"Is that why you did not return to Osgiliath, even when my mother sent word of my birth?"
"I could not leave Minas Tirith, for Minas Tirith needed all the help it could against the Witch-King, who had taken Minas Morgul when it had still been Minas Ithil and the deciding reason to leave for Minas Tirith. As I had helped the kingdom of Arthedain against him in the North, I had to help the men of Gondor against him here. I had become so immersed in my work that I…" He trailed off, his gaze distant though his eyes were fixed on her. "I had not noticed how few the letters were, nor the years between them. Eventually, King Eärnil's son, Eärnur, had become king and was far brasher and less wise concerning the Lord of Minas Morgul."
Inconnu did the numbers in her mind and her eyes widened at the conclusion. "You spent forty-one years in Minas Tirith." She exhaled, utterly stunned and became more so when Megilan-uial shook his head.
"Seven years longer than that," He corrected, looking loathe to so do. "But I should have known that young King Eärnur's pride would prove his doom. The Witch-King had provoked him twice and the second time brought him beyond even the reasoning of his good steward. I had left with him among other trusted knights..."
Inconnu knew that none had returned from Minas Morgul, the event had been well-documented and often spoken of in Osgiliath. However, none knew the true fate of King Eärnur and those who had gone with him. Megilan-uial did know, and his expression was haunted.
"Most were killed upon arriving at the gates of the Dead City… and they were the blessed ones. Eärnur and two knights spent their remaining days in the Houses of Lamentation, not outliving the year… I spent eight years more at the mercy of the Witch-King before I managed to escape."
"And you fled to Mirkwood," Inconnu concluded, remembering he had come as part of King Thranduil's entourage. Megilan-uial nodded.
Now she knew. Her father had fought against the Witch-King in Arnor and again at Minas Morgul. He had spent years in the Houses of Lamentation, and though Inconnu did not know what they were, the expression on Er-Murazor's face when Megilan-uial approached them during the celebration of the crowning of the new King of Gondor now made sense. They were enemies once, but now the Witch-King was no more and Er-Murazor stood in the wraith's place. The old rules no longer applied in this situation and they all had choices to make in this new time of Middle Earth.
She then asked, "Did you ever return to Osgiliath?"
The silence was thick with uncertainty and great hesitance in the time it took for Megilan-uial to answer her.
"I did," His voice sounded weak like it had no other manner to say the words he spoke. "I returned in hopes of finding you. I knew you were still alive, my heart and love for your mother refused to believe otherwise. You are half-elven but are as immortal as I am, and that solidified my belief that you were still out there. I couldn't find you, Inconnu, for when I did return to Osgiliath you were nowhere to be found. I only found Lindesse's grave."
"I-" Inconnu had to swallow her own hesitance before managing to properly say, "I've always had an urge to go North, to hunt the beasts and monsters that were still there. I couldn't ignore the wanderlust when she died, only able to remain long enough for her funeral."
"I have heard the stories of the Huntress of the North," Megilan-uial admitted, "But I never thought the woman in those stories would be my own daughter. However," He then gave her a small, yet sincere smile. "I did not know what to expect if I ever found you."
"And now that you have found me, what will you do?"
"I am not so blind to your love of the Numenorean, and I have the feeling that you will not leave his side. But the north calls to you, does it not?" Inconnu nodded, and he then asked, "You remain because of him?"
"I do. Er-Murazor needs to find his new purpose in this world. I already have mine as the Huntress of the North but I will remain with him here as long he wishes to, and long after he decides to leave. Our future is ours together."
"He is no longer the Witch-King of Angmar…" Megilan-uial mused, "However, I possess too much bitterness and not enough wisdom to see what he could make of himself as a mortal. Glorfindel always had better foresight. Perhaps I should seek out his wisdom."
He then looked at Inconnu, really looked at her, and then smiled softly.
"You truly do look much like your mother. Numenorean blood has always run strong even after their home was claimed by the ocean depths. I… I wish I had decided to return to Osgiliath instead of riding with Eärnur. I denied myself to be a father and the ability to watch you grow up in the fine woman I see before me."
Inconnu, filled with emotion, returned the smile. "I wish you had too, as then perhaps my mother would not have been so worried for my fate… perhaps she would have been able to tell me she loved me before she passed from world."
"She never…?" Megilan-uial was shocked as his daughter shook her head.
"Even in her final moments, she could never tell me the words I had wanted to hear my whole childhood. Her fear of the Witch-King and my unshakable tie to him and his fate prevented it, even in the end. I never understood why until I came across a written account of the final battle for Arnor and the routing of the Witch-King, and the hidden lines of Glorfindel's prophecy of the Witch-King's fall."
Suddenly, Inconnu was pulled up from her seat and into Megilan-uial's embrace. Stunned, it took Inconnu a moment to return the embrace.
"If I could turn back time I would decide to return to you and your mother and you would know every day how much you are loved."
Neither of them could help the tears that fell, Inconnu silently thanking him as she hugged him tightly. Soon enough, however, Sverundr nudged his large head between them, snorting lightly and pushing his nose against her shoulder. Inconnu laughed softly, rubbing his nose.
"I love you too big boy, don't think I've forgotten you so soon."
Another snort and more nudging for pets followed, and Inconnu obliged her companion. Megilan-uial watched the interaction for a few minutes before asking, "This is your horse?"
"Yes, this is Sverundr," She explained, "He's been my companion for quite some time."
Inconnu nodded, "A true descendant of Felaróf, sired by Nahar."
Sverundr tossed his mane and flicked his tail, looking quite proud. He allowed his rider's father to pet him, letting him run his fingers through the stallion's thick mane. Megilan-uial appraised Sverundr and his behavior, then asked Inconnu, "Nahar? As in the stallion of Oromë?"
"He was a gift," She confirmed, glancing at her sword. "As was Ghosts Song."
"The Valar guided you when I could not," he decided, "And I am thankful for that. You would not have liked me in the decades after I escaped from Minas Morgul. It was some time before I found myself again." Megilan-uial returned his gaze to hers. "I suppose it is a good thing that we did not meet until the crowning of the new King of Arnor and Gondor."
"I suppose so," was all she could reply to that. "Where will you go now?"
"Travel," he replied, "The world has changed much, and I wish to rediscover it. Too long have I stayed in Thrandruil's halls as the world moved without me. I believe I will travel to Imladris, take the long way. I would like to gaze upon the shining woods of Lothlórien and enjoy the peace of Imladris again."
"Sounds like a worthy adventure, when will you leave?"
"Tomorrow morning, most likely."
This time it was Inconnu who initiated a hug between them.
"Then I wish you luck on your new journey, father."
"And I you, in what you decide to do with your beloved. May we cross paths again soon."