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Introductory Course

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Introductory Course

"Make her useful. I refuse to let her sit idly and distract you too much."

Once more, those words swirled about again and again in his mind. It was inevitable that he would end up dwelling on them for the umpteenth time. In fact, he thought about them every single day though he loathed acknowledging it. It was a painful thing to do.

"Because I am your master, I am hers as well. She is my slave as you are mine. Her fate is entwined with yours, Witch-king."

When Sauron first spoke those cruel and damning words to him seven years ago, he expected them. He expected them but also dreaded them. As much as he wanted to disregard them, to do so would ensure dire consequences and hot wrath. That was a chance he refused to take. If he could shield her from as much of the evil Maia's attention and anger as possible, he would do it without hesitation.

The lord of the Nazgûl had found another reason to abhor his cruel master. Though he hated the Dark Lord, he knew he could not defy him. He had no choice and he was all too aware of it. He would not let her die.

"Take her under your wing and show her your ways. Place a sword in her hands, forge her into a warrior. Mentor her in the ways of the shadows; teach her your deadly craft."

Yet the start of it all was quite unexpected.

His queen had opted to stay behind in Minas Morgul with him. She convinced him to let her stay. She loved him and her devotion was clear. She would not let him suffer alone any longer. Her place was with him and she made that very obvious to him. Parting was out of the question.

He could not resist and reject the love that was blossoming before his very eyes. He would try again. This time, he would be more careful and more guarded. This time, this union would work and he would make sure it would. Happiness was possible and they both believed it could be achieved.

He was a Man after all…

"You think you can regain some semblance of a so-called normal life? You think you can try to create that which you never even had? How pathetic you are. You are mine."

He mentally recited the Dark Lord's decree again and again. It hounded him and his conscious. The Witch-king hated this sensation of guilt and what was even worse was the sense of powerlessness that followed it. His anger had always burned but sometimes it was bright and consuming. Other times, it was diminished yet still present. It never truly went out.

He wanted to protect her, to shield her. That was what he was obligated to do. But ultimately, he knew it was a false hope. He had already failed that. She was innocent and young and the instant she was born, her fate was sealed. It was a dreadful curse not even he could break. Because he had sired her, she would suffer.

His melancholy and woes tugged at him. He yearned to fight, to resist, and take revenge. Again, he wished for a blessed freedom that would never be granted to him willingly. It was a freedom he would cherish and not dare to squander if it was ever given to him. He would make the most of it.

A small smile tugged at his invisible lips. His shrouded helm turned when he heard the two beloved voices just beyond the door. They were encroaching and he would leave his worries and frustrations behind. He would not burden them with what he dwelled on. One was already well aware of his grievances and the other was too innocent to comprehend.

Despite his unending servitude, he was able to remember and experience joy and love. It was a bittersweet thing that his master had permitted. His humanity seemed to be poking out through the choking veils of darkness. He seemed to recover more and more as time went by. He even started to remember dusty and long-forgotten things from his mortal past.

The Witch-king rose from his seat and shut the heavy, leather-bound book he had been previously trying to read through. He walked over to the other side of his private study, making his way to the door. The voices grew louder and he found himself smiling a little larger.

He set his mighty, armored hand on the door knob. Then he turned it and pushed the door open. Although he knew who was on the other side, his blackened, weary heart was lightened as soon as his eyes rested on their shapes.

"I take it that you've completed your reading lessons, little one?" the Wraith lord asked.

The child who held onto his wife's hand was still a mystery to him even now. Her conception was entirely unexpected and he didn't suspect he would enable his queen to bear fruit. They had finally consummated their union after he had agreed to let her stay. They had made love some times after that but he truly believed he was infertile. However, that was proven wrong when she became pregnant three months after their consummation.

When he had discovered his Dúnedain-born bride was with child, he was astonished. He deemed it was impossible. But he also refused to believe she might've lain with another man and thus resulted in this sudden development. Instinctually, he knew that it was his offspring.

He was quite torn over the reveal. He should've been happy but more than anything else, he was filled with dread and fear. To a certain extent, he almost wished this child never existed. Because he knew about them, the Lord of Mordor would know instantly as well.

And he did.

"Yes, Father!" the little princess beamed. "Mother says I've been getting better!"

"And she speaks the truth," you confirmed, smiling at your husband. "Morwen has been making some decent progress."

"And her horseback riding?" the garbed, unseen Man pondered out loud. A gentle hiss and a soft chuckle came from him. "What about her arithmetic and sciences?"

"Just fine. She is done with today's lessons and we came over so you could begin your part, my king."

"Ah. Of course."

There was a silence that fell over the small family. It was a time the both of you hated but knew it was coming. It had to be done or else the evil, sweltering Eye would be upon you all.

"Father, I'm ready!" Morwen excitedly announced. "I want to be a sorcerer just like you one day!"

Her naivety was charming and so very innocent but he pitied her immensely. She knew not what she spoke of. This craft he was going to apprentice her under was nothing to be taken lightly. It was powerful, fell and taxing. Due to his condition, he was impervious to any side effects and drawbacks but Morwen was an entirely different situation. She was pure and mortal. If he was not careful and did not properly instruct her, she could end up harming or killing herself.

"And I cannot wait to have my own sword as well!" She bounced about gleefully in place. "I will be the greatest swordsman in the East!"

"Then let us not delay a moment any longer," the Witch-king exhaled.

Morwen relinquished her grip on your hand and bounded over to your husband's side. Unflinchingly, she grasped onto one of his gauntlets and pressed herself against his leg, nuzzling into his frame. His aura of terror and despair was all but useless against her. She did not feel it and she didn't fear her kingly parent at all. She adored her mother and father equally.

As much as you wanted to postpone it, you knew it would come sooner or later. Sauron's ultimatum filled you with disgust and woe but you trusted your consort. He would train her thoroughly and cautiously. There was no one else you would permit to teach her about such unsavory things anyway.

"When you're finished with your lesson, we'll read again and then you'll go to bed," you said. "It has been a long day for you, my child."

"Yes, Mother," the little girl nodded.

"Pay attention well, Morwen. Listen to your father and behave."

"I shall, I promise!"

"She is an astute listener and an even keener watcher," the Witch-king remarked. "Do not fret, my queen, all will be well."

It was a half truth but Morwen didn't need to know that. Once more, you would trust him as you always did. It was the only thing you could do anymore in this terrible place.

You only nodded and closed the door gently, granting them their privacy. It was hard to do but you would leave them be. As much as you desired to speak with him, you would wait until they were finished. The night was to be a long one and you knew he wouldn't neglect you.

A mere second after his wife walked off, Morwen turned her head upwards to face him. Her blue eyes locked onto his darkened orbs. Although he had seven years to adjust to her existence and presence, the Witch-king still found himself mystified by her. To him, she was an enigma. She was one of the most unusual creatures had had ever encountered.

While most Men didn't acquire gray or pale tresses until they had aged substantially, Morwen was born with silvery-white locks. She had always been quite pale and notably tall for her age as well. In a strange way, one might possibly describe her qualities and features as Elven. In truth, she was more of a reflection of his true, unseen shape. However, her father was pleased she hadn't inherited his more unsightly and harrowing features. To him, she was a perfect and lucky combination of her parents.

Her blue eyes were also an unusual thing. His queen asserted no one in her family had the exact hue or color that Morwen had. Instead, she suggested that perhaps her eyes were inherited from him. Perhaps they were his eyes before he had become what he was currently.

Unlike her mother and many other beings, she could see the Witch-king for what he truly was. She was able to see the other Nazgûl just as clearly as well. She saw them as normally as she could see a mortal, material creature. Not only that, she seemed to be more alert and vivacious during the night. She was somewhat like his kind but he was relieved that was where the similarities ended.

She had the vitality and freshness of her mother. She also shared her fondness of the earth and appreciation of simple but beautiful things. Morwen also seemed to possess the mortality and susceptibility of his wife. If it was a lucky thing or not he didn't know.

"You are growing up quickly, my child," he started. "Though you are still young, it is imperative that you start early. It is wiser to start earlier than later. The skills you wish to learn to harness take many years to refine and more to master."

He wanted her to understand what lain before her. He wanted his daughter to be as prepared as possible.

Despite this, Morwen's gaze was earnest and honest.

"Show me why they call you the Witch-king," she almost begged. "Please, Father!"

He had many capabilities and feats that he could display for her. He wasn't given his title so carelessly. Many terrible things were within his power and he could and would do such as he deemed necessary. He could lay a terrible curse upon someone or enslave their very soul to do his bidding. He could make weapons shatter with the power of his hand. He could create and send nightmares to torment his enemies. He could summon and control animals in service to the dark powers. He could even control frost and some aspects of weather.

Although he could show her such things, he also didn't wish to frighten her. Aside from his beloved wife, he also cherished their daughter. He discovered he could truly love two people.

"Since you have asked so politely, I will happily enlighten you, little one," he said. He gently patted the top of her skull. "What I possess and know will be shared with you in time, Morwen."

The young girl hugged his leg before breaking away. She took a few steps back and gave him some space. Eagerness was etched into her features and she was quiet, undoubtedly waiting for him to display his capabilities. She was even smiling, waiting for anything to happen and to be in awe of it.

"Bring me that vessel of water on that chair, child," he instructed.

Morwen did exactly as he requested. She half skipped and half walked over to the wooden chair that held the container. Gingerly, she picked it up and held it close to her chest, not wanting to drop it. Water sloshed about loudly in the clay vase as the little girl then ran back to her father's side. She held it up, offering it to him.

"I only need you to hold it, Morwen," he explained. "Lower it so that you may see the water as well. Now, watch."

He knelt down to her height and gazed into the vessel. Normally, he would never stoop to do something like this but it was all for her. Never before had he displayed his craft as if it was like a cheap magic show. To a certain extent, he expected to feel belittled yet he felt amused more than anything else. He had never showed his power to merely display it for aesthetic, harmless purposes.

Morwen intently stared at the water, wondering what he would do. She heard him exhale slowly and suddenly the room became quite cold. The half-Wraith shuddered in place and was a bit surprised when she could visibly see her breath after a few seconds.

He muttered some words in Black Speech and before her very eyes, the water solidified. They widened once she saw the water had become a sturdy, heavy block of ice.

A hoarse laugh came from the Witch-king upon noticing her astonishment.

"I take it you are impressed with that little parlor trick?" he asked.

"You can do this to water?!" the child practically yelled.

"I can do more with this."

He spoke again and the ice shattered. Morwen nearly dropped the vase, surprised by this development. She still held onto the vessel and watched as he continued to recite the necessary incantation. The chunks of the ice broke down into finer shards and were reduced to an almost dusty consistency. The daughter of the Nazgûl only watched on, spellbound and totally invested in whatever he was doing.

"It is January and no snow has fallen in Minas Morgul as of late," the Witch-king noted. "But has anyone ever seen it snow indoors?"

He took the vessel from Morwen's grasp and blew the icy dust out of its container. The particles floated and drifted about in the Witch-king's study. The coldness in the chamber remained and the dust took the form of snow. The flakes danced around the child, utterly enchanting her.

She stuck out her tongue, catching some snow on the tip of it. It truly was snow as it appeared to be and she could hardly comprehend it. She could only watch in a silent marvel as it continued to fall, landing on her father's desk and any other surface in the room, creating a thin, fragile layer of frost.

"Ice is an element I have power over and I can freeze and thaw things at will," he explained.

"What else can you do?" Morwen wondered.

She was uninterested in how he could do things. She simply wanted to see it with her own eyes. The amazement and eagerness remained in her voice.

He was aware that she already knew of the power and bond he had with his winged steed. Morwen was more than familiar with the fell beast and had happily declared it as her own pet. What she didn't know was that the fell beast was under his careful watch. The creature knew better than to strike out at any beings its master forbade it to attack. It was indeed an animal but it was intelligent, observant and feared its rider's wrath. Morwen was one of those restricted subjects and it would tread cautiously around the small person its dark owner favored.

In time, she would know the full scope of his sorcery. As she grew, he would show her more. For now, things would be tamer but still mesmerizing.

The Witch-king turned and made his way over to his desk. He sat down at it and beckoned her over to his side. She wasted no time and crawled up onto his lap, wanting to be as close to her father as possible.

His hood looked to the candles that were lit in the room. The flames danced about on their wicks, almost looking as if they were struggling to combat the darkness that encapsulated the rest of the room.

"Look carefully at the shadows, little one," he instructed.

"What will I find, Father?" she blinked.

"Whatever your heart desires."

"A dragon!"

He raised his hands, uttering his spell. The shadows of the room seemed to gather into a shape and come to life. Gradually, they took a more solid appearance and gave way to a quite distinct and recognizable form.

Morwen gasped loudly as she watched the shadowy silhouette of a dragon fly about the study. Her hands clasped together and she cackled in joy at the sight.

His heart felt light and content as he heard her laughter. Only a hundred years ago, the dying screams of his enemies made him smile. Never did he imagine the innocent, lively and bubbly laughter of his daughter would lift his spirits. Things were rather different nowadays but he wasn't going to lament over it.

When Morwen finally arrived, he was reluctant to even be near her. She was so small and fragile and he didn't trust himself to handle a creature so tiny and dainty. Although her existence had fascinated him and he was drawn to her, he still wanted to keep away for her own safety.

"I have no experience with infants, look at me, my queen. Is it not obvious? I still can scarcely believe I've sired her!"

"Well, I encourage you to believe it. I am a mother and you are a father. This is new for the both of us but I will not back down."

"I am ill suited for this… She wasn't even supposed to have been created!"

"And I thought so too. But she is here now. She was born of me and my husband and king. She is ours and I accept her. I will not forsake Morwen." She smiled and carefully extended the sleeping, bundled up form of the infant to him. "Here, take her."

It took some coaxing but he surrendered and held her. She slept peacefully and without a care in the whole world in his arms. She didn't tremble in fright or try to escape him. Morwen was trusting, comfortable and at ease.

He ended up holding her for the entire night while his wife slept deeply. The concern in him slowly dissipated and he felt more acclimated to this unusual situation.

The longer he held her, the more he realized how precious she was… And he saw she was the child he wanted to have before he fell under the thrall of the Dark Lord. He had his wife and now he was given this other blessing. His heart had become less selfish.

It was decided very shortly after their daughter was born that they wouldn't have another child. Neither of them wanted to have another daughter or a son that would be forced into Sauron's service. Both husband and wife agreed to it. They had unknowingly condemned one child to the Dark Lord and they were unwilling to risk another to suffer the same fate. It was a sacrifice they were willing to make. The Witch-king laid a spell of barrenness upon his wife and that was the end of it.

While he watched Morwen grow, he knew his master did as well. Time and time again, he would remind him that she was condemned to his service. Like her father, she would be the Dark Lord's slave. She would be molded as he saw fit. But the Witch-king would do it under his terms if he could achieve it.

"I am so sorry, my little dove," he thought. "I've failed you as a father. You should hate me, not idolize me. When you grow older, things may be different. You will realize the true nature of things. I want your mother to tell you everything and I will do so as well. You deserve it."

He continued to entertain her with the manipulated shadows. Morwen's delight never waned and her interest was piqued as the dragon evolved into a fell beast.

A minute after that, the fell beast promptly dissolved into a flock of obsidian butterflies that flitted about all over the room. Her reactions were pure and filled with awe over what he deemed were parlor tricks.

"You can do all these things?" she asked, still watching the butterflies. "There must be more you can do!"

Indeed, there was. But he wouldn't expose her to his more insidious craft until she was older. He wanted his daughter to remain as innocent and pure for as long as possible. It was a fool's wish but he cared not. It was an impossible thing to do in the company and service of the Dark Lord yet he would try it.

"Yes, there are other things I can do," the Morgul lord admitted. He dissipated the flock of butterflies and reshaped the shadows into something else. There was a smile on his face as he worked. "But it would be unwise to show all my tricks at once, my dear. I have no desire to overwhelm you. You will learn and see more in time, I give you my word."

Morwen seemed unhappy with his answer. He could see that she was thinking, most likely considering debating with him further. His daughter was strong willed and curious and he didn't know if he was content with this reality or not.

"Can you guess what I am crafting?" he asked, wanting to distract her.

He formed three shapes from the shadows. One was the tallest out of them and seemed to have no discerning shape aside from a crown-like object on its head. The second tallest was in the clear silhouette of a woman, complete with a dress. The smallest of the three was also feminine in shape and it stood in between the larger shapes, grasping onto one of each of their own hands.

"That's us, Father!" Morwen proclaimed. "You're the king, Mother is the queen and I am the princess!"

"How clever you are," he chuckled gently. "Perhaps that is almost too easy for you to guess."

The child huddled closer to him. She rested her head against his chest and nestled into the black robes that covered his shape. Morwen clung to some of his shrouds with one hand, reluctant to let go.

"Thank you, Father," she said.

The Witch-king could feel a warmth seep into the ethers of his being. More and more, it became increasingly common. Only his wife and his daughter caused such a sensation to occur. Each time it happened, a little piece of his humanity stirred.

His armored hand rested on her arm, gingerly securing her to him. He returned her affections, allowing her to huddle closely to his shape. He never wanted her to fear him. He wanted to be a sanctuary for her.

Though he was an entity of darkness, dread and terror, he was also a husband and father. In his accursed existence, only two people were able to reach into his heart and pull out long dormant love. It was theirs and he would always bear it for them. The right hand of Morgoth may have enslaved his mind and soul but his heart belonged to his wife and child. They were the only two pure and good things in his unending, weary life.

"Cherish these words, my daughter," he said. "I never forgot your mother's face and I have dreamt about you for many years. No matter what may happen, never forget this."