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The Acceptable Sacrifice
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34: Audience with Umbar

34: Audience with Umbar

Wasnior, Belladon, Beslor, and Dorath stood with their guard of four in the Vestibule, listening to all that was spoken within the Hall of Kings. What they heard was disturbing--it appeared that the forces of Sauron had attacked far more than Gondor, and that he’d been successfully opposed on all fronts. Although there were new kings now in Erebor and Dale, it appeared that the Dwarves of Erebor and the Elves of Mirkwood were now in alliance--a thing long believed impossible. Certainly the three embassies had apparently traveled here together from Rhovanion and appeared to be somewhat more than merely tolerant of one another.

The probability that their own embassy would be welcomed with such courtesy was very small, they knew, particularly if Angrapain had been offensive or had injured one of the Periannath. At last there was a sign from the Herald to the leader of the four Guardsmen, and they were brought to the doorway to the hall.

“Lord Wasnior of Belden in Umbar, aide to Lord Marcipor, ruler of that land. His companions, Lord Belladon, Lord Dorath, and Lord Beslor.” The four of them were escorted into the hall and up to a position just before the dais.

“Lord King Elessar, we bear you greetings and congratulations from Umbar on your accession to the throne of Gondor.” Wasnior led the bow to the tall Man seated on the throne above them, and noted that on one side of the steps to the throne stood the Guardsman who’d visited their house the previous evening, and on the other stood the Ernil i Pheriannath in his Guardsman’s uniform. Certainly the expression in the eyes of either was anything but friendly.

“We thank you, Lord Wasnior. You have waited for this day with more patience than I’d expected from you, although it appears not all within your party were equally gracious about it.”

Wasnior reddened. “I beg your pardon for the trespasses of our fellow, my Lord. Lord Angrapain meant no offense, I am certain....”

“He meant no offense, you think? Is it considered polite in Umbar for such as Angrapain to approach individuals they do not know and make suggestive remarks about whom they might or might not be physically attracted to? Is it considered polite to indicate that an individual might be more strongly attracted to another of their own sex, or by one who bears power and authority over others? Such is not considered polite here, in Rohan, in Arnor, in Dale, or in any of the lands of Dwarves, Elves, Hobbits, or Men I have visited throughout the rest of Middle Earth, Lord Wasnior. Yet this was done by your Lord Angrapain.”

“If this is why he was arrested, my Lord....”

“We will discuss the reasons for that move in a few moments. First, we would ask why Umbar has sent you and your fellows here to Gondor and Minas Tirith.”

“My Lord--to offer you the congratulations due you on having been accepted as King of Gondor.”

“You did? Did you bring patent letters authorizing you to treat with the government of Gondor?”

Realizing where this was going to lead, but still trying to keep up appearances, Wasnior bowed, “No, such were not sent with us, my Lord.”

“I see. Did you bring a letter of congratulation properly sealed and signed from Lord Marcipor and his Council?”

Wasnior’s heart sank considerably. “No, such was not given into our hands, my Lord.”

“Did you bring to Gondor letters of condolence on the death of the Lord Steward Denethor, or for the death of his beloved son, heir and Captain General of the forces of Gondor, the Lord Boromir?”

“No, we did not.”

“Did you know that these two were dead?”

“We had assurance that both were dead.”

“From whom?”

It took some moments to get the answer past his teeth: “From Mordor, my Lord.”

“Did you bring gifts of acknowledgment of my accession?”

Almost whispering, Wasnior answered, “No, my Lord.”

The King examined him closely, then straightened. “Lord Elphir of Dol Amroth, will you please come forward to speak on this matter?”

Elphir stepped forth from his place by his father. “Yes, my Lord Elessar? And what did you wish me to speak to specifically?”

“On the arrival of this party, what did they say their purpose was for coming to Gondor and specifically to Minas Tirith?”

“They did not say.”

“Did they indicate they wished to speak to the King?”

“No, my Lord. When I told them that we had just welcomed our Lord back to the city after our victory in the East, they expressed surprise, for they had heard that Lord Faramir had been injured, and that the army to march East had been led by my father and our Northern allies. When I told them that instead we welcomed the return of the King and that it was your coronation feast to which they were bidden, the faces of all, including the five lords and two servants, were all clearly surprised and expressed shock to learn this could be so. I heard one mutter, ‘Since when does Gondor have a King?’ Indeed, My Lord Elessar, they had no idea that there had been such a change within Gondor.”

“Is there any other who can testify on this matter?”

“There are those who served as guard of honor for them on their arrival. This included several from the guard of Dol Amroth, from the Guard of the Citadel, and at least three of the Northern Dúnedain who serve in your personal guard, my Lord King.”

The King looked to the Man who stood on guard at the side of the steps to the Throne. “My Lord Hardorn, can you as head of my personal guard, tell me the name of any of those of our folk who accompanied Lord Elphir to the entrance to the city to welcome the party from Umbar?”

The Man straightened. “Yes, my Lord King. Baerdion of Whitcastles was one, Elorgil of Fornost, and Berevrion of Annúminas.”

“Elorgil is within the room now, and has heard what Lord Elphir has said. I would prefer it to be one who has not had the chance to hear his story.”

“Berevrion is on duty at the bottom of the ramp from the Sixth Circle, my Lord; and Baerdion has been off duty for just over an hour and was to review the equipment for those who keep guard on the living quarters at the second hour. He ought to be in the armory with Captain Gilmoros.”

The King looked the other way, at the Perian who stood there. “Guardsman Peregrin, do you know the way to the armory?”

“Yes, my Lord King.”

“Go there and fetch Guardsman Baerdion, please, and do not tell him the reason why he is summoned.”

“Yes, my Lord King.” He sheathed his sword, gave a salute to the King, and turned toward the doors behind the throne, hurrying off to the armory. Not a quarter mark later those doors could be heard opening again, and he came back into view, followed by one dressed in grey and silver, one Wasnior recognized as one of those who had accompanied Lord Elphir to the gate. He appeared confused by the King’s question, but his story was the same as that given by Lord Elphir. Lord Elphir had also sent for one of his own people who had accompanied him at the same time who waited outside the Citadel, and his story was the same again.

The King looked critically down at Wasnior. “So, my Lord, it appears you have not be strictly honest in your story, for it is obvious you had no idea any had come to claim the throne of Gondor until the moment Lord Elphir told this to you. Will you start again to explain why you were sent to Minas Tirith?”

Wasnior looked up into the eyes of the Man seated so high above all, the Winged Crown on his head, his great sword across his knee, and he did something unthinkable--he told the truth. “We were sent, my Lord, to learn what had happened here in the realm of Gondor and throughout the rest of Middle Earth, and how it was that Mordor and its might were defeated. And we were to find out what had happened to our fleet.”

For a long minute the King of Gondor looked down on him, his eyes continuing to examine Wasnior’s face. At last he gave a contained nod. “I see that this is indeed the truth, and I thank you for it. Perhaps there is a seed of honor in you if one seeks deeply enough, Lord Wasnior. Had you spoken this honestly to Lord Elphir at the gate to the city, your reception would have been far warmer, or so you would have found. Instead, you sought to seek for the truth in secret, through sly questioning and approaching those thought to have an understanding of my mind, and through the seeking of your spies within the city. You will find, Lord Wasnior, that when dealing with the government of Gondor and Arnor from this day onward, it is best to be honestly inquisitive and open in your questions.

“Your fleet came, with the acquiescence of Lord Marcipor and your Council, on the orders of Mordor, up the River Anduin, timed to fall on our troops from the rear when they were already exhausted and much tried, and so defeat them through overwhelming already stressed Men with fresh troops confident of their abilities and eager to join an already prolonged fight. As they came up the river they were practicing by firing arrows and balls of flaming naphtha by catapult upon the towns and housesteads and farms you passed, and at such troops as you saw.”

He paused and looked meaningfully at Wasnior, who replied miserably, “Even so, my Lord.”

“You were to draw near to the wharves of the Pelargir and fire them also if you could; and a small number of your ships were to actually make landfall there to engage and slay any troops they might find, keeping them from going up the River to the relief of the siege.”

Wasnior glared at the Man on the throne. “We were at war with Gondor. Such is an effective strategy.”

“It is true such can be an effective strategy. But your people did not succeed at their goal.”

“No, for by foul means you brought against our ships those who ought to have left the bounds of Arda an age past, and our forces were so destroyed.”

“By foul means? By what foul means? Their King had sworn a mighty oath to come to the aid of Isildur against the forces of Mordor, and he and his people broke that oath, so binding themselves to remain in Middle Earth past their deaths until at last they could redeem themselves by coming to the aid of his heir. I am Isildur’s heir, from father to son through many, many generations, and am descended also from Meneldil through Ondoher and his daughter Fíriel, who married Arvedui, last King of Arnor. To protect the armies fighting against Mordor, we had to defeat those sailing your fleet, and so I went through the Paths of the Dead and called on the Oathbreakers to do for me what they would not do for Isildur. They are at last at peace, for they have done what they were meant to do. If it is foul to free the unquiet soul from the bounds of Arda, I would like to have you explain how this is so.”

The King of Gondor straightened on his throne, looking down on the four from Umbar. “We have been reviewing the atrocities practiced by your people against our land. Some forty years past your people had repeatedly sent ships to harry the coastlines of Gondor and to strike at her ports near the Mouths of the Sea. You also prepared an armada intent on coming up the River Anduin much as your forces did this time, burning, pillaging, destroying and taking slaves as you came, its final intent to assault the heartland and capitol of the realm. However, that armada was burnt in its berths by the strategy of Prince Adrahil and the Captain Thorongil. Since then your ships have continued to attack our coastal towns and settlements and peoples, and at least two hundred souls have disappeared from our shores into your slaveships in the last five years alone. Your ships have continued to assault our merchant vessels and to again take those of their crews and passengers you failed to slay as slaves. Your smaller ships have brought spies repeatedly into Gondor’s lands, spies and those who have been instructed to destroy our wharves, assassinate those lords and officials they could reach, burn our crops, steal our cattle, fire our timber forests. Shepherds and those who watch after cattle have been stolen from their watches; children set to scare birds from newly sown fields have disappeared.

“This you have done ever since Castamir the Usurper fled Minas Tirith; and you wonder why the people of Gondor greet you with suspicion?

“This time your fleet was taken by the forces I brought with me, and you have lost it. We will not return a single ship. The battle was almost lost here because so many of our troops remained in the Southlands, seeking to protect the people, lands, cities, harbors, and merchant centers of the Southern fiefdoms; we needed them here to protect the capitol and to force the armies sent by Sauron the Deceiver to return to his land. I will not apologize for taking your fleet.”

“Your actions led to the deaths of hundreds of our Men....” He realized it was not a politic thing to have said the moment he said it.

“Hundreds of your Men, you say? Three towns and one city were lost, with a total loss of lives nearing five hundred, not to mention the destruction of stores of foods and trade goods and manufacturies. And had your armada reached its goal, your Men would have sought to slay many times their own numbers. Plus close to four hundred slaves, a full half of them from Gondor, were freed by our assault on your ships. No, we do not recognize the validity of any claim you may seek to visit on Gondor for the losses you have suffered in this action against our land and people.

“Plus, had you succeeded, all of the peoples of Gondor would have suffered, and thousands upon thousands not only in Gondor but in Rohan, Dunlend, Rhovanion, and throughout Eriador would also have been slain outright and more enslaved to suffer horrid fates at the hands of Sauron’s forces and minions. Men, Elves, Dwarves, Ents, Hobbits, Eagles--all would have suffered. No, my friend, we have far greater claims to lay at the door of Umbar than Umbar has ever had to lay at the door of Gondor.”

“You will not return our ships?”

“I have just told you that we will not.”

“But our livelihood has ever come from the Sea....”

“Were any of the ships I took fishing vessels, or trading ships?”

Wasnior stood silent, recognizing the reasoning of the King was unassailable. Finally he asked, “What of Angrapain?”

“What of him? He is accused of approaching an innocent being and asking him highly suggestive and inappropriate questions, and suggesting that he might be drawn to attractions which are not spoken of in polite society, much less to such as the one approached. His behavior and speech has been highly offensive, and his motives for doing so even more questionable. His case will be shortly tried, and you will witness that trial. You will also witness the examination of several identified as spies for Umbar, Mordor, Rhun, Harad, and Dunlend.”

Wasnior felt his face flush, then go pale.

The King continued, “We do not owe to the people of Umbar an explanation of how Sauron was defeated. Yet we will tell you some of it. Five hundred years ago a creature found Sauron’s Ring of Power in the River Anduin where Isildur was slain three thousand years past. It was taken by one who became quickly enslaved to It into the darkness under the Misty Mountains. Its slave lost It seventy-eight years past, and It was found by one who’d been taken by orcs into those caverns and who was seeking to escape. This one had no idea what he had found, only that It made him invisible when he put It on his finger.

“He succeeded in his escape, and in time returned to his own people. The Ring could not fully destroy his integrity before he managed, with help, to pass the Ring to another. Just over a year past the Ring was finally tested and Its nature laid bare, and the one now bearing It was advised to take It to Imladris where counsel would be sought as to how to deal with the thing. Pursued by all Nine of the Nazgul, he fled his own land.

“There was but one thing to be done with the foul thing--to seek Its destruction, and he volunteered to carry It to Mordor to see It brought to Orodruin. Had he not succeeded in bringing It to that place, I would not sit here before you now. By the grace of Eru he was relieved of the burden and the Ring destroyed, and he and his companion rescued from death.

“That is what has happened. Even your own land has benefited from the destruction of Sauron’s power, if you will seize the chance now placed before you. No longer do you need to practice evil to earn the favor of the Dark Lord, and further deaths for his benefit will be totally without effect, for he cannot rise again, now that the Ring is no more. Too much of himself did he pour into the thing.”

“How did you come to be King?”

“I am Isildur’s Heir, Lord Wasnior. Long and long have my people fought the long fight against the forces of destruction in the North, and long and long have some ever come to Gondor to fight in her forces alongside our kinsmen here. All my life I have been prepared for this moment, should Mordor fall. Well, Mordor has fallen, and I directed the final assault to give the Ringbearer time to reach the Sammath Naur. The time has come for the end of the division of the two realms, and for all to come together in mutual respect and honor. No longer is there a king with no kingdom residing in Arnor, or a kingdom with no king here in Gondor.”

“How did Curunír fall?”

“From lust for the Ring.”

“Is he yet living?”

“Yes. He has imprisoned himself within Orthanc, and is guarded by the Ents of Fangorn Forest.”

“How did Mithrandir come to take the role of the White?”

“You will have to ask him that, Lord Wasnior.”

Beslor shook himself. “And we are to believe that those two--” he pointed to the right to where Frodo and Sam sat, “--went through Mordor to the Mountain of Fire itself to destroy the Ring?”

“Yes, my Lord, those two did exactly that. They crossed the Anduin alone, managed to make it through the Emyn Muil, crossed the Dead Marshes led by a fell guide, stood before the Black Gate, realized they must seek another way to enter Mordor, and suffered betrayal, capture, unspeakable tortures, beatings, and the horrors of crossing the Plain of Gorgoroth with insufficient food and water, all with the terror of being seen by our enemies, all with the Ring Itself growing stronger and more demanding and destructive every step of the way and with the Eye searching ever more desperately for them. As I told Lord Wasnior, the quest was fulfilled by the grace of Eru, and they were brought out of the destruction of the Mountain beyond all hope. They did what I could not have done, for the Ring would have taken me long ere I made it to Orodruin. Elrond of Rivendell, Galadriel and Celeborn of Lothlorien, and Mithrandir all refused to take It, although all four know sufficient of the wielding of power to perhaps have mastered It some ere It mastered them. I wonder if Saruman realizes yet how quickly It would have devoured him, had he managed to bring It into his hands as he’d purposed?”

The four from Umbar looked at one another, all four uncertain.

Dorath looked over at the two Periannath seated to the side. “How could two such as they make such a journey?”

The Perian Frodo looked at him, and Dorath could see the weariness in his face. “Do not ask that, Master. It is enough to know that we did, and that it has left me wounded beyond knowing.” The Perian’s voice was low, yet carried throughout the hall in spite of that.

Bard of Dale rose. “My grandfather told me tales of your kinsman Bilbo, Lord Frodo, and ever he spoke of his courage and wisdom and his great humor and kindness. He and my father would have rejoiced to have known you as well. I salute you in his memory and the remembrance of Bilbo’s visit to our lands. And I rejoice that you have shown the same honor and courage.”

Frodo’s mouth twisted. “I thank you, but question whether your compliments are deserved.”

The King Elessar said quietly, “My Lord Bard, you will learn that the quest cost Lords Frodo and Samwise much, and in Lord Frodo’s case much of his sense of worth. The effects of carrying the Enemy’s Ring have been shown to have been most destructive. It has been painful seeing how deeply into Frodo’s soul It ripped and tore.”

Gloin looked at Frodo with compassion. “I grieve, Frodo Baggins, that you have had to suffer so since I saw you in the autumn of the year in Rivendell. You did not deserve such to happen to you.”

“Thank you, Gloin. May your beard ever grow.” Frodo rose and bowed deeply, then sank rather heavily back into his chair. Aragorn exchanged glances with his foster brother.

The King rose. “We will take a recess for a quarter mark. If the rest will return here at that time.” All rose, bowing or curtseying deeply as he descended from his throne. Pausing by the chairs in which the Pheriannath sat, he smiled and spoke softly to them, and led them out.

A quarter mark later all returned to their places. The Perian Guardsman led in Frodo and Sam and saw them seated. The carafe of water had been refreshed while they were gone, and a plate of pieces of fruit and thin slices of ham and cheeses and squares of flat breads had replaced the dish on which grapes had originally lain. The visitors from Rhovanion stood before their chairs, as did Éomer of Rohan, and finally the King himself returned. The King’s expression was impossible to read; the Lord Frodo Baggins was quite solemn; Lord Samwise’s eyes were concerned but expressed a feeling of helplessness. The broader Perian reached to touch Frodo’s shoulder; Frodo looked over, for a moment obviously annoyed and then contrite, and shook his head. Samwise gave a sigh and sat back, watching his friend with even more concern and frustration.

The King took his seat on his throne, his great sword across his knees, and looked down toward the Herald. “Let the first suspected spy be brought, and have Ruvegil stand beside her.”

A woman, pale but composed, was brought in. She’d obviously been allowed to don a clean dress and to brush her hair before being brought before the King. Wasnior heard a stifled grunt from Belladon as she was brought to stand between where the four from Umbar now stood and the King. Beside her were two Men, one of them a Guard of the Citadel, the other in a brown leather harness which seemed to be a requirement of jailers everywhere.

The King examined her. “Your name?”

“Anitra of Rhun, my Lord.” Her voice was accented.

“What charge has been laid upon you?”

“I’m accused of spying for Rhun and Umbar.”

“Is this true? Have you spied for other lands?”

She took a deep breath. Finally she said softly, “Yes, my Lord, I have.”

“Who sent you here?”

“My man brought me here six years back, and put me to work in an inn in the Third Circle. Had me talk to the soldiers who came there to drink, learn where they were patrolling, how many there were in their troops. Then he’d pass on what I told him to a bookseller also in the Third Circle.

“Why were you arrested?”

“An officer thought my questions were suspicious. He followed my man, saw him pass the list to the bookseller, saw that one pass the list to an agent from Umbar. He arrested the bookseller and my man, but my man took poison and killed himself before they got him to the prison. Then they came to arrest me.”

And so the questions continued. All listened in fascination as she described how she’d been taken from her family in Rhun as a girl of thirteen and brought to Umbar and sold to a woman there, sold when her mistress died to slavers who kept a tavern near the Pelargir where their merchandise must work and sell themselves, how they’d found a young Man who’d wished to become important and convinced him to come to Minas Tirith and bring her with him and set her up in a tavern to work for him and learn the information they wished to learn and pass it on for them.... Her voice was flat as she spoke, and she explained how she was beaten if she didn’t bring home sufficient information, so she had begun to make up reports she gave him to satisfy him. “He never knew the difference.”

The prison guard spoke of how this matched what she’d said in the prison, and of the slaver’s brand which had been found on her consistent with the brands used by the slavers of Umbar. The officer who’d arrested her verified the story she’d told of her arrest, the arrest of the Man to whom she had given her report and the bookseller, and how the Man had taken poison. He also spoke of the raid on the tavern near the Pelargir and the finding there of twenty women, girls, and youths all with the brand of Umbarian slavers on them, all forced to sell themselves and apparently being trained to gather information for their masters, two of whom were definitely from Umbar themselves.

The King asked Anitra if she had seen any within the room previously. She identified having seen Prince Imrahil and his sons as well as other lords of the realm within the city, and then paused as she turned toward the four from Umbar. “Of those four, the second from the right. I know him, for he was one of those who frequented the tavern near the Pelargir.”

Belladon went very pale at having been so identified.

She went on to identify one patterer she’d often served in the tavern but whom she’d never questioned. At last, apparently satisfied, the King had her removed to the lesser audience chamber.

The next to be questioned was the bookseller. He’d traveled widely seeking merchandise, and had stopped in a tavern just outside the Pelargir where it had been rumored entertainment for the evening could be found. He’d been shocked when suddenly the door to his room had burst open and he was apparently being arrested; he’d been bound and a scarf tied about his eyes and a hood pulled over his head to keep him from seeing where he was taken. He’d been brought to a building somewhere and made to sit in a chair to which he’d been bound, and the blindfold was removed. There he was questioned long and hard, and then he’d been removed to a cell. Then after a time a Man had come to speak to him, and explained he’d been mistaken for another, but that this one would assist to have him freed if he would agree to pass on information given to him by certain others once he returned to Minas Tirith. He was then to give to the ones who brought information to him sums of money given him by those who came to collect the information. Again he identified Belladon as the one who’d made this offer, although he described three others, one apparently from Gondor itself, who also came regularly to retrieve the reports given to him. He also described five who gave information to him, one of them being Anitra’s man.

The officer who’d made the arrest of bookseller and Anitra was recalled and asked more about the tavern near the Pelargir, and he described it in detail, including the cellar area below the main floor, accessible easily from the outside because the place had been built on the slope of a hill, which had been made to look like a prison building, complete with barred cells. His description of this place and one room within it apparently used for interrogations matched the bookseller’s description of the place to which he was taken exactly.

And so it continued. Two of those who had been arrested as spies knew nothing and appeared to have been identified as such by neighbors who were angry with them. One denied he was a spy but was identified by the bookseller as one who regularly passed information to him. This was one who served as a barber whose clients included many soldiers as well as those who served the garrisons in Osgiliath and even a few minor lords during their visits within the city. Three others proved to be among those who’d been giving reports to the bookseller, and the descriptions of how two had been brought into the act of gathering information showed each had been elaborately blackmailed, while the last had been recruited by one he’d met in a lesser inn in Lebennin after he’d repeatedly complained about the boredom he experienced.

Another who met with agents from Dunlend was the servant of a lord from Anorien. When several raids in a row occurred just after his patrols passed specific sites the lord had begun to suspect one of his own people had been giving information to the enemy; he’d given different reports to various of his troopers and servants, and set traps to see which report would be acted on. The report given to this servant had been acted upon, and he’d finally admitted under questioning he was resentful of having been passed over by another for promotion.

Three more there were who’d been spying for Rhun and Harad, one of the latter from Anfalas. One who’d served Rhun was yet defiant, having offered himself as a spy after his older brother had been killed in Ithilien due to a major lapse in judgment made by his commanding officer.

The King had the two shown not to have spied released, and ordered that the neighbors who’d denounced them were to be taken into custody and remain the night in the prison, to be questioned the next day after they’d had a chance to worry and think on their actions for a time. Those who’d denounced them would, he indicated, be forced to compensate them for what they’d suffered.

As for the rest, he had them all brought again before him. The bookseller would be taken South to Lebennin to serve two years on one of the realm’s farmlands, and then released to open a book shop elsewhere. The contents of his home and shop would be stored for him and brought to him wherever he chose to settle; but never again would he be allowed entrance to Minas Tirith. The servant from Anorien was ordered to be hung at dawn. The rest were sent to one form of servitude or another either in either Gondor or Arnor, three of them set to help rebuild farms and villages upon the Pelennor. The one whose brother had died was to accompany Lord Halladan back North when he went, and to assist for five years in the labors in rebuilding Annúminas and Fornost, after which he might settle in Arnor but might not again reenter the realm of Gondor. The barber’s possessions were all forfeit to the crown and he would be resettled in a small village outside Dol Amroth under the supervision of Prince Imrahil and his sons. Anitra was given a year’s servitude in Arnor on the estate of Lord Halladan and would be allowed to settle freely where she wished afterward, although she would not be allowed to return to Gondor. She blessed the King Elessar for his mercy and discernment.

The judgments were all approved by the company for their appropriate natures.

Once the last of the accused spies was led out the King called for Belladon of Umbar to stand forth before him. The questioning was specific and relentless, and soon his part in the slaving of Umbar, the purchase and adaptation and running of the tavern outside the Pelargir, and the acquisition of slaves to run the place and to aid in recruiting spies had been laid bare. He found himself naming six who’d been taken as the bookseller had, two of whom had killed themselves afterwards either out of shame or to keep from fulfilling their oaths to spy for Umbar--or both. The King gave orders the other four were to be located and brought to the capitol within a month’s time for questioning and judgment.

At last the King indicated that Belladon was to be taken under guard to the lesser audience chamber for a time and searched for weapons that he not do himself or others an injury, and Wasnior didn’t dare protest. And then he ordered Angrapain of Umbar brought before him. Wasnior found himself groaning.


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