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Guardian of the Golden Wood
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Chapter 16 – The Lord of the Nazgûl

Legolas and Orodhrim watched their father attentively. The King of the Woodland Elves was pale like a ghost. Deep lines of sorrow were etched deeply into his fair face and his eyes looked red, as if from crying. Never ever before had they seen Thranduil in such a sorry state!

He had abandoned the stretcher on which he had been transported since the incident on the Amon Lanc, but refused to ride with his sons. Instead he was walking with his people. For the last hour or so, the King had been by the side of a young Elven couple, talking softly to the elleth and holding the hand of their small elfling, who lay prone and almost lifeless on a small cart, drawn by a tiny, grey donkey. Even the beast seemed subdued, its ears hanging on both sides of its gentle-faced head, it drugged along the forest path as if all the burdens of Arda were loaded on the wagon.

‘If he continues like that, he will stand in front of the Gates of Namo’s Halls long before we reach the Caves and the Enchanted River.’ Orodhrim whispered to his younger brother.

Legolas shook his head and gave a deep sigh. The Greenwood and his people were Thranduil’s life and soul. He loved both so deeply, that whatever befell one of his subjects or a morsel of his land went deep into his guts and bones. Often had they seen him unassumingly visiting some elleth and her newborn or sit by the bedside of a warden, who had been wounded on the fences. Whenever one of his subjects answered the Call of the Sea and decided to make for the Heavens of Mithlond and Cirdan’s grey ships, Thranduil resented the departure as a personal failure, having been unable to give to one particular elleth or ellon the taste to stay on in his forest realm and enjoy the beauty and the freedom of the Hitherlands. Many elves from the other realms who did not know him well, called him Thranduil the Nasty, for their adar could display an impressive temper and behave like an enraged mountain lion, when provoked or crossed, but to his own people he was a tender and caring father, much beloved and held in high esteem. To see him in such a state of distress could not be good for the morale of the Woodland Elves! Legolas winced. They had to do something, even if he had no precise idea, what this should be. But they had to find a way and get their adar out of his distress and back into his lion mood.

Orodhrim seemed to guess his younger brother’s thoughts. ‘You know, muindor,’ He said slowly,’ the brown wizard of Rhosgobel is a wise and learned man and well versed in the lore of nature and living creatures. I have paid him visits on occasion and …’ He smiled contently, ‘there is something about him…a strange and very powerful aura…you know, as if you’d catch a glimpse of Oromë ridding by on Nahar and gracing the forest with his might and strength. T’is not a simple old man, I tell you, but someone very old, for in his eyes you can see the Light of the Trees and when he talks, t’is like a far sound of the fair songs of the Ainur.’

‘Radagast?’ Legolas was surprised and highly intrigued by his brother’s description. He too had met the fellow on occasions, chiefly when he went out to check on the wardens’ posts close to the Old Forest Road, but the gentle, old man, who talked with birds and the animals of the wild had never given him such an impression. But for his height, when he would not crouch on his gnarled staff, he’d believed him to be one of the curious little Stoor folk, fishermen dwelling in the marshes and on the shores of the Gladden…perhaps a kind of shaman or spiritual guide to the periannath, but nothing more, although he too had felt the benign magic of Radagast.

Orodhrim nodded. ’Exactly. There is nothing foul or dark in him, but he has a strong, earthbound magic. Mayhap one of us should ride to Rhosgobel and ask Radagast to come and have a look on the Amon Lanc. Perhaps he knows what this darkness is…..don’t you remember that horrible tale Adar once told us on Midwinter Eve: The Lore of the Gloomweaver Gwerlum who drained the Two Trees of Valìnor and the wells of Varda before fleeing with Morgoth to Aman?’

Legolas nodded. He remembered the tale very well. Thranduil had frightened him almost witless, when he had been an elfling…to their naneth’s great distress! ‘But the elder tell, that she ended long ago, when in her uttermost famine she devoured herself at last.’

‘Dunce!’ Orodhrim cuffed his younger brother’s arm.’I do not think that somehow the Gloomweaver has survived all the ages of Arda, just to creep into the Greenwood and make herself a nice nest under the Amon Lanc. But the elders also tell, that she spawned a brood with lesser spider monsters, while haunting the Ereth Gorgoroth in Beleriand of old. Perhaps one of these crossbreads has survived the sundering. Who knows, muindor! T’is a beginning to unveil this shadowy secret that is creeping over our lands.’

Legolas returned the brotherly cuff.’T’is indeed a beginning! Go you and try to drag this rusty eremit from his abode and see if he may be of help in our predicament. I will keep watch on adar and as soon as everybody is safely settled along the northern borders and around the caverns, Thirion and myself will do the honourable warrior thing and mount a small force of volunteers to go back to the Amon Lanc and explore the tunels. Perhaps we’ll find a nasty spawn of the Gloomweaver and you come in right handy with your friend Radagast.’

Orodhrim gave his brother a coquetish mock bow, turned his steed and made his way into the forest and towards Rhosgobel.

Olorin stood quietly in the shade of a large rock. The muscular, tall and blackskinned creature had appeared out of nowhere all of a sudden. It was about the same height as Haldir, but slightly broader in the shoulders. Long raven hair fell in extensive, little braids almost down to the crude leather swordbelt, that was his only adornment. His long, strong limbs were naked and it wore only a kind of short buckskin skirt that hardly covered its modesty. Never before, since he had arrived in Aman had he seen such a peculiar looking orc. Its cheeckbones were almost as finely cissled as Haldir’s and he had a fine, straight nose, high brow and well-defined pointy ears. But for the colour of its skin and eyes, one could have almost confunded it with an elf. In a sense it was…beautiful!

The orc was armed to its teeth. Two long, unadorned knifes where stuck in a crossbelt over his chest, a long, curved blade hung from the swordbelt and in its hand it held a huge black bow made from the wood of the hew tree and a crude quiver, filled with black-fletched arrows. It seemed much stronger, then any other orc, Olorin had ever encountered in the Hitherlands, and surprisingly….it was much cleaner. The awful stench that habitually emanated from these creatures, before the eye even perceived them was amiss!

The tall orc had greeted Haldir in the warrior style, clasping both forearms of the Galadhrim Captain. And Haldir had replied in the same fashion. They had exchanged a few words in something that ressembled a dark mockery of the high elven tongue and the Istar realized to his great surprise, that Celeborn’s foster son seemed very much at ease in this dark language, speaking it not only fluently but unflinching. It did not seem to hurt the elf at all.

Habitually his kin would shudder and pale, when confronted with the language that Melkor had created to insult the Valar and mock their firstborn children. Then, after a while they reverted to the common tongue and Haldir motionned to where Olorin stood, apparently pleading the Istar’s cause with the orc, who seemed not tremendously happy with the presence of the elven captain’s companion. He even gnarlled at Haldir, bleaking his yellowish fangs and trusting his hand to the hilt of his crude blade.

Olorin took a firmer grip on his staff, preparing to intervene immediately if things should turn sour. He was not willing to risk their quest just to humour the whim of Celeborn’s foster son, but instead of taking to arms and finishing their discussion at the point of their blades, Haldir gave a soft, jaunty laugh and clapped the orc in a friendly way on his broad shoulders, shaking his head good-naturedly and pointing at the carcass of the ibex at his feet.

And the orc replied in the same fashion, although his way of showing mirth made Olorin’s blood run cold. He had never ever seen a stranger encounter: It was almost, as if Cirdan the Shipwright would suddenly take the fancy to have afternoon tea with Khamul, the Lord of Sauron’s Ringwraiths.

But while the orc picked up the ibex and threw it over his shoulder, Haldir signalled to him to leave his comforting boulder and follow them onto a narrow path that led into a small, well hidden valley.

Olorin watched in wonder when some twenty of that curious orc-breed appeared from within a mountain cavern. Most of them were males, similar in size and looks to the first one , who had receptioned them on the mountain path, but some seemed to be females and he even spied two or three imps, hiding behind their elders. All, but these imps were armed and the females looked as bellicious and fierce as the males…and they all seemed really pleased to see Celeborn’s Captain.

The Istar kept to the backstage, leaving the diplomatic part of the evening to his companion. He felt tremendously uneasy, when one of the females, after having served a crude mug of earthware to Haldir came over to him. Her eyes were guarded and defiant, but nonetheless…she served him a drink.

Celeborn’s Captain seemed to ignore him, settling comfortably on a treetrunk, chatting and sipping from his crude mug. Once again, the Captain had turned back to the abominable black speech.

Seemingly left to his own devices, but in no danger from their strange company, Olorin decided to find himself a seat and try the orc brew. Since Haldir drank it without taking harm, it was evidently not poisoned. For a long while – the females had dressed the ibex and put it over a large fire close to the entrance of their cavern – he could only observe. They spoke of triffles, of hunting and …of their families. His powers allowed Olorin to comprehend the contents of the discussion.

One of the yrch warriors pointed to one of the females and explained that she was carrying a new imp and Haldir congratulated the brute, telling him in the same line that he had finally pledged his fair Rivendell bride and would soon make her his wife! The entire scene was too disturbing to be cosy. An elf and a bunch of Morgoth’s spawn fraternizing. Never in the history of Arda…No! He corrected himself: They must have fraternized before, because it was indeed true that a few of that spawn had fought with Gil-Galad and against Sauron some thousand years ago.

Haldir emptied his mug and stretched it out for a refil and Orthrod’s female obliged him. He knew that Mithrandir felt very uneasy, alone in the dark and leaning his aged back against an uncomfortable stone, but it could not be helped. There were certain courtesies to be observed, if he wanted Orthrod’s clan in a receptive and helpful mood.

When they had shown up some thousand years ago, declaring that they hated Sauron more then GilGalad and all the elves of Arda, the High King had been sensible enough to not shun a potential ally…even if this ally was a spawn of Morgoth and under normal circumstances the chief enemy of Elvenkind.

But none of his great captains, not even Elrond, had had the openness of mind to accept them fight by his side and Elendil together with his captains had been altogether against such dangerous and potentially treacherous alliance.

Haldir had stood in the backrow close to a dwarven captain from Durin’s tribe listening to the whole brawl, when the dwarf had suddenly grumbled something about fools and enemies of his enemies. And notwithstanding the fact, that he was not tremendously fond of the stunted ones since the slaughter in Doriath, he had found reason in the words of his neighbor. And when Gil-Galad had been close to the point of dismissing Orthrod, telling him that certain things simply were not possible, he had taken his courage and stepped forward, telling the mighty lords that he was willing to fight with everybody who was an enemy of Sauron.

Celeborn had thrown him a glance that could have smouldered a balrog, but Gil-Galad had seemed tremendously relieved and Orthrod’s small band were quickly hushed off to Haldir’s heavy cavalry.

They had been his trackers and scouts for seven long years and on the Dagorlad none of them had shunned the enemy. They had fought their dark bretheren from Mordor as valiantly and courageously as each and every elf from Greenwood or Laurelindórean and many had paid their allegiance to Gil-Galad and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men with their lives.

When all had been over and he had returned from Rivendell and his lengthy sickbed, he had had the first real fight with Celeborn, imposing upon his foster father and Lord the warriors’ code of never letting down a comrade-in-arms. It had been the hardest fight of Haldir’s life, also not a single drop of blood was shed and in the end the Silver Tree had given in to him…also for the first time in Haldir’s life.

And so it had come to happen, that a small clan of renegade yrch lived peacefully by the borders of Laurelindorean and carried crude emblema of a mallorn leaf on their shields, for they recognized the Silver Tree as their overlord and had sworn to rally to his call in times of need, to fight by the side of the Galadhrim.

Haldir tussled the black mane of one of the imps, who brought him a wodden plate with roasted ibex meat. Then he stood up and went over to Mithrandir.

He had explained to Orthrond and his warriors that the Gray Wanderer held the friendship of the Silver Tree and the Lady and meant no harm to them, although they all could feel his strange light magic and were a bit frightened of him. But finally they had come to the decision, that Mithrandir could sit with them, share their meal and ask his questions.

Haldir himself had given them a short, watered-down version of the purpose of their quest and was already well aware of a dark force that tried to pull them from their safe heaven and towards the North. But Orthrond’s clan was unable to tell him precisely what tried to pull them and were exactly the dark sorcery came from. Too long ago had they betrayed their dark master and forsaken his cause and all of them vaguely remembered what they had been before Morgoth marred, enslaved, broke and finally twisted them into his evil soldiers.

And the simple fact that for the last ten centuries or so they had not been under his dominion, had given them a strong resistance against calls from the abyss of the darkness. Orthrond was even furious and resentful and he had sworn –using an astonishing panoplia of abominable swearwords in his own tongue- that only over his dead body this evil menace would destroy the peace and lives of his tribe.

The chieftain was also aware of several bands of yrch and snaga who had left their hideouts in the foothills of the Misty Mountains and the Dunland and were actually trecking towards the High Pass and the North. But they were to numerous for Orthrond and his warriors and they did not dare to hunt them down on their own and he had asked if the Galadhrim would be willing to join with them in a preventory strike against the marauders.

Haldir crouched in front of the wizard, who sat with his eyes closed, breathing softly as if asleep. He held out the wooden plate, hoping the large crocked nose would be attrackted by the smell of roast meat. He did not want to wake him.

‘I am not asleep.’ Olorin replied softly. ‘I was just wondering, if you’d forgotten an old man and your good manners, Captain!’

‘So you have decided to be reasonable, Gray Wanderer?’

‘I feel not very much at ease, Haldir…but I shall heed your advise for once.’

‘Then come and join us at the fireside. They are willing to speak with you and partake what they know.’

Elrond rubbed his bleary eyes wearily. His spine was aching and his shoulders so stiff, that each movement was torment. He closed the ancient manuscript and put it aside on an already considerable stack of other leather bound volumes. What Celebrian had told him some ten days ago was most disturbing. He had immediately written a long missive to Cirdan in Mithlond and send forth the most trustworthy of his courriers on the speediest horse of the stables of Rivendell. And ever since he had searched through his library which contained the complete history and memory of Aman together with innumbrable tomes on occurences that had taken place in the Blessed real before the Flight of the Noldor in the hope of finding perhaps an hint, an indication concerning the so-called shadowy presence around the Amon Lanc. He cursed Mithrandir inwardly. Why had the wizard been so stubborn and not shared his suspicions with those of the Eldar, who were knowledgeable of lore, history and politics.

Why had he opened himself only to Galadriel in far-away Laurelindórean, pushing her to the point, where she weakened the defences of her realm in order to allow him the pursuit of this shadow?
If ever this shadow should avere itself to be one of the Nine, what could an old wizard and a elven warrior –even one so ancient, brave and wise as Haldir- do against him?

Haldir must have been terribly angry with Galadriel and probably also with the Gray Wanderer. If there was one elf in Aman, who knew exactly that it was impossible to do whatsoever against a Ringwraith, even diminished and no longer under the evil dominion of Sauron, then it was his play-brother and childhood friend Haldir.

During the terrible Battle of Dagorlad, when Amdir Malgalad together with Oropher had been cut from the rest of Gil-Galad’s forces, to be driven off into the marshes bordering the great, treeless, open plain between the Emyn Muil and Cirith Gorgor, his friend had tried to buy them time to regroup and extract themselves from that dangerous position with his heavy elven cavalry.

And Haldir’s fine project to drive with his horses like a spearpoint into the orc host that threw itself against the Kings of the Greenwood and of Laurelindórean, in order to open up a way of retreat for the Sylvans had almost worked out….until his left flank had been faced with one of Sauron’s wraiths, leading warg riders into the elven charge.

Haldir’s second-in-command –driven by the blood and battle rage- had challenged the wraith with his sword…but no elf or man with a weapon forged on an anvil and hardened in normal fire was able to touch one who had already entered the realm of shadows.

In his rage against the challenger, the wraith had appeared in a hellish fire, blinding the elf and his steed. They recovered Arphenion from the bloody field nontheless and he was still alive when they brought him to the healers, but his eyes had been taken by the Nazgul, the arm that had wielded the sword and struck the undead horror through the black attire into the nothingness of its faded body was burned to the bones and the elf’s mind destroyed beyond recovery by the terrible cry of death, which was the Nine’s most destructive weapon. In the same night Arphenion had thrown himself upon his sword to end his own misery!

Elrond gave a deep sigh, stood up and stretched his aching back: it would not help to dwell on the past and the Dagorlad. The sollution of the riddle of Mithrandir’s shadow would not be found there, but somewere else, he was sure of it. A Ringwraith deciding to manifest himself more then one thousand years after the destruction of Sauron and stepping out into the open, however carefully, could be the beginning of most terrible events.

Already since the death of its tenth king, Eärendur, some fivehundred years ago, the lands that once had been Arnor were shaken by unending civil war. The King’s eldest son, Amlaith had claimed Kingship over all Arnor but was in the end reduced to only ruling the region of Arthedain as his kingdom, while the other sons founded the kingdoms of Cardolan and Rhudaur. Elendil’s old capital Annúminas on the shores of Lake Nenuial had long become depopulated and fallen into ruin. In addition to the civil war, the three kingdoms had frequent border skirmishes over boundary disputes and while the relationship of Arthedain and Cardolan remained still relatively peaceful, Rhudaur was unfriendly towards the two other successor states, and engaged in a bitter and bloody conflict with Cardolan over the tower of Amon Sûl and the palantír that was kept in the tower.

The decline of the Northern Dúnedain was already long beyond repair…and Rivendell and the Elven Haven of Mithlond both had long common borders with the warmongerish and restless descendants of Elendil and his Numenoreans.

Considering the simple fact, that Elrond’s closest neigbour – Arthedain was not only fighting with its two bretheren Cardolan and Rhudaur, but also with the descendants of the traitor Ulfang the Black on their north-eastern borders, close to the Mount Gundabad, it was a possibility that Mithrandir’s shadow of the Misty Mountains would snatch the occasion and try to use his evil powers also upon these villain Northern Men. This could mean a thread not only to Laurelindórean and the Greenwood, but also to his own realm and Mithlond.

It was imperative to investigate the matter in depth and to clearly identify the shadow, before something terrible would come to happen, that could once more drown their world in blood.

Elrond closed the door of his library and strode purposefully to the study of his counselor Erestor. It was not enough to send an inquisitive missive concerning Mithrandir and his fears to Cirdan. He would take saddle and ride himself. Whatever the shipwright knew of these five seemingly elderly men who had come from Valinor to Aman could be of the highest importance. For if ever they were truly what Elrond suspected them to be, then indeed terrible times were coming …not only for the elves, but also for all living beings of these lands.

Olorin accepted readily his ninth or tenth mug of the yrch brew and the female no longer watched him with guarded eyes and suspicion, but gave him some strange snarl, that seemed to be the orc equivalent of a smile. The brew wasn’t that bad…not after the lengthy account that Orthrond, the chieftain had given him of the assembling of snagas, goblins and other filthy creatures in Goblintown right over the High Pass. He could even have done with something stronger then that brew, which had about the same effect on him as dwarven ale or the beer of the Harfoots.

Orthrond spoke a surprisingly good Westron, but occasionally slipped into the elven tongue, when he tried to explain more complexe things. Olorin had the feeling that he talked not only with Haldir, but also with other Galadhrim wardens and thus knew exactly what was expected of him: Quantities of foes, equipment, dark beasts like wolves or wargs accompanying them and detailed descriptions in order to figure out from whence they hailed.

Haldir had not interfered, when the Istar had started his questioning of his highly unusual comrades-in-arms. He sat silently by the fireside, observing with watchful eyes the interaction between him and the yrch. But Olorin was not deceived by the Captain’s casual attitude.

One of the imps had crawled into Haldir’s lap for a nap and he stroked the little beings black mane, singing softly to it in that abominable language of their hosts. Nonetheless, his shoulders were tense and he was ready to intervene immediately should any of the discussing parties make a misstep or cross boundaries. Olorin wondered, what these boundaries were that would turn Orthrond and his relatively tame clan back into feral beasts.

‘And what of the Great Goblin in Goblintown?’ Olorin asked curiously. He wondered, if Haldir’s yrch had an idea where he hailed from. After the downfall of Sauron in the Battle on Mount Doom, most of the surviving yrch, goblin, troll and other creatures of evil spell-enslaved ran hither and thither mindless for a long, long time and some cast themselves in pits and others even slew themselves.

It had been exactly the same situation, when Morgoth was at last removed from Arda and his dark creatures that survived in the West were scattered, leaderless and almost witless, they are aimless, even reduced to ant-like form, especially those who had dwelt long under the immediate attention of his will. And while some of these recovered with time and gathered enough wits of their own to do mischief and stir chaos for their own purposes, most awoke from their state of mindless indifference only at the very moment, when Sauron returned from the East of the world, where he had fled after the War of Wrath and the Defeat of his master Morgoth.

For ten centuries while he was not seen in the West of Middle-Earth the creatures of his master where lethargic, but as the first millennium of the Second Age of Arda turned, Sauron came back, taking for himself the fenced and mountaineous land of Mordor and from this very moment, when he had started to build his mighty dark tower of Barad-dûr he called out to all surviving servants of Morgoth and they all headed his call!

Now, with the situation at hand, to have a mysterious and evil shadow haunting the Misty Mountains and a part of the Great Greenwood, it seemed as if history repeated itself!

Orthrond curled his thin, blackish lips and barred his teeth in what was –Olorin had understood this earlier- a pensive mood. His red eyes reflecting the light of the fire seemed to look into a far-off place that only he could see. He pondered for a while. Finally he took a sip of yrch brew from his mug. The sigh of the chieftain would have frightened half the periannath population on Rivendell’s borders out of their wits, but Olorin had spoken long enough to Haldir’s curious ally to understand, that the creature was truly and deeply upset.

‘He is different.’ He replied thoughtfully.’ He is…’ Orthrod hesitated a moment,’… almost like Boldog: A great leader and warrior, a big, strong orc such as have not been seen since the Host of Angband attacked Doriath of old.’

He threw a glance at Haldir, who nodded, remembering the tales of the Boldog and Lug, who had fought Tuor of Gondolin in single combat before he was slain by the later.

‘He also wields powerful dark magic and rumors tell, that he can call on hungry, houseless spirits and force them to inhabit and then enslave the body of any of his servants and that this strange necromancy then makes a more powerful and much more cunning goblin, who will also grow in physical strength and strength of the mind.’

The orc chieftain had unconsciously fallen into the Sindarin tongue of the Eldar, also from his lips it sounded unmelodious and harsh beyond imagination, but his mastery of the Common speech obviously did not extend to explain so complicate a concept as necromancy. Olorin was deeply shocked and this shock he could not hide from his features.

The Istar threw a short glance at Haldir, who sat still silent and with the sleeping orc imp in his lap. The fair face of the Captain of the Galadhrim did not show any signs of surprise. He had either heard earlier of this fearsome goblin leader and his particular powers or he simply did not understand the implications of Orthrond’s words.

Each feä was imperishable within the life of Arda, and its fate was to inhabit Arda to its end. As soon as they were disbodied they were summoned to leave the places of their life and death and go to Mandos’ Halls of Waiting in the undying realm of the Valar. But no feä could be brought to Namo! It was summoned and yet such summon could be refused and refusal of the summons to Mandos and the Halls of Waiting was frequent, even among the Eldar. Indeed, if a fear was already committed to the Darkness it passed into its dominion nat the moment of the refusal to hearken Mandos’ summon.

Olorin knew that even of the Eldar some who had become corrupted had refused the summons, and thus had had little power to resist the counter-summons of Morgoth. Such practices of mastering the houseless feär and making them servants were of Morgoth and of him alone and all the necromancers had ever been of the host of Sauron his servant. So if the so-called Great Goblin of Goblintown could call upon the spirits of evil, he was forcefully a necromancer and thus a important and powerful minion of the Great Deceiver.

Now his last question would be of vital importance for their quest. Olorin unconsciously and completely absorbed by their discussion laid his hand on Orthrond’s muscular underarm and bend closer to the chieftain.

‘Has anybody trustworthy ever set eye on the Great Goblin? Can you describe him to me? What does he look like?’

Orhrond shook his head.’Nay, I cannot describe him, for he is always cloaked, from head to toe in black ragged cloth and over his head he wears a large hood, covering all but his fiery-red eyes. As far as I know, none has ever seen him uncloaked, not even his minions and slaves. He wields a huge, two-handed sword of which lore tells, that it comes from a fabulous horde of treasure high up in the Northern offshoots of the Hithaeglir, where it meets the Ered Mithryn. And they say that his weapon was once, ages ago forged on the Isle of Numenor and that it was taken from a mighty lord of the Black Numenoreans, who had sailed with Ar-Pharazôn, when he sailed to submit Sauron and carry him off to his island realm. For there was great fighting and battle, before the Dark One gave in to the King of Numenor.’

Olorin shuddered. What Orthrod had told him pointed perhaps not in the direction he had initially feared, but it was almost as bad as if he had spoken of Sauron himself. The description of the one, who gathered hordes of dark creatures to the great goblin stronghold over the High Pass fitted exactly to one servant of the Great Deceiver: The Black Captain, the Lord of the Nazgûl. And now this most terrible of all the servants of Sauron was establishing himself, surrounded by hordes and hordes of yrch, goblin and troll soldiery right on the strategic crossing between the three most important Elven havens of Middle-Earth and directly on the doorstep of Rivendell and the safe way of the elves to the Grey Havens of Mithlond.


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