Up the winding secret stair hewn from mountains in lost ages
the kudukin had climbed with labor led by Trahald, called the gulper.
Now despite their deadly guide's call to lead them into blackness
Banazir Galpsi stopped their journey to ease his loved master's burden.
Maura took a sip of water from his servant's gentle hands;
side by side they shared a wafer white as moonglow, Aelfen gifted.
Made they on that dismal watchpoint a gentle warmth, in conversation
storytelling and reflection this the way of all kudukin
to ease their fear with home-like laughter in the most unkind of places.
Spider Pass that place was named from it all men shied, and shuddered
for its deadly way was legend in the mighty Tower of Guard.
The kudukin, though, did not think on the danger waiting, they did not know
while they softly spoke and rested Trahald crept into the tunnel
to set the trap and to betray them thus the Ring he hoped to gain.
Banazir, who loved his master said he would be sung forever:
Maura, bravest kuduk hero, his story told in many pages.
Maura, tired beneath his burden, cut by sorrows, wisdom fading
could even here be drawn to laughter by Banazir, his much beloved.
Ban the Bold, he called his servant; he too would be in songs remembered,
staunch, and true and gentlehearted wit within his common speech.
They told each other their own story; even Trahald, old kin-killer
called the gulper, Ring-ensnared was remembered in their words.
He had gone now to betray them untrusted, and yet over-trusted
they would follow where he led them though they knew him for a villain.
Now young Ban embraced his master begged him take a moment's resting
lay his head in Banazir's lap, let Ban watch over his sleeping.
There lay Maura, much beloved worn beyond his years, and burdened;
the hope of all who fought the shadow from Anduin to the sea-coast.
Banazir's tears -- silent weeping -- fell on his master's tired brow
faithful Ban, in grief and love softly kissed his master's mouth.
Long he watched or seemed it long but Banazir had pushed his strength
far beyond the frame that bore him; with Maura's hand enclapsed in his
his eyes shut and his breath grew slower; he too was sleeping on the mountain.
Far from there the mighty Aelfstane drove his foes toward the royal harbor
Aelf and Dwarrow rode hard beside him and behind them came the dead.
Razanur, young Tuk, looked out from the lofty Tower of Guard
while thither rode his hearty cousin Kalimac the Brandagamba,
in the company of horselords. Dear the cousins of brave Maura
reckless Razar, joyful Kali, though they saw the battle nearing
still their hearts went ever to him who bore the Ring to save them all
Greyaelf, wise, the Fire Ring wielder waited too, he knew ere long
the Witch King, strongest of the Ring-ghouls would come, and they would try their strength.
All their eyes were looking eastward.
Trahald then, despised traitor
called the gulper, old kin-killer returned from the accursed lair
where he meant to doom his victims and regain the Ring of Power.
He came upon them still in slumber, peace there was on both their faces;
beautiful they seemed to Trahald and for a moment he repented.
Of the kuduk-kind he had been long ago beside the river,
before the Ring came to ensnare him and his hands shaped their first murder.
Had Banazir seen Trahald's face then sorrow would have killed his heart;
old he was, beyond all knowing, shrunken, bent beneath long trouble
pain was in his eyes, and lonely more than mortal soul can bear;
and at that moment on the mountain Maura, bearing long the burden,
too was bent, and too was shrunken and their faces were the same.
But Banazir woke, his own eyes cursing that had closed and his watch broken;
guilty counted he his weakness -- he had failed his dear master:
betrayed the trust that love demanded, left Maura unwatched, unguarded
prey to any who came nigh him, naked to an enemy hand.
It seemed to Ban he saw a vision of this evil hand of murder
stealing toward his master's knee and with a hiss he knocked aside
Trahald, and the spell of grace that had been on him then was broken.
Sneaking villain, Ban had called him and this he had become again.
Maura woke then; he spoke kindly to Trahald, but it was too late,
the gulper's mind was full of murder and nearby the spider waited.