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The Turning of Angw
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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4
The Lost Prophesy

A/N: I have always been fascinated by the psychology of evil. What exactly is it that would cause a reasonable, intelligent person to embark upon a course of action that would eventually hurt them one way or another? Tolkien knew. I believe he understood about the Mental Lens through which we view the world around us, and that we ourselves can obscure it, distorting our own vision, when we put our desires in front of our responsibilities.

My theory on tipping points, The Moment of Tilt, is explored here. Once you have tilted, you are set on a course from which you may believe there is no escape, and you are convinced there are no options, no choices to make apart from the one you have chosen. My theory hinges on the notion that being caught in the grip of an emotional desire prevents you from thinking rationally: the object of desire becomes the be all and end all, and this robs you of the ability to see the situation in perspective. The usual outcome is messy, to say the least.


~~~

Angw raced to Khazad-dm as quickly as he could. Though he knew Adzarek was dead, he believed that he could in some way not only atone for what he had done, but also protect his own mountain from further "improvements" by the Dwarves. He had no bodily form at that time - it was quicker to travel without it. When he appeared to Adzarek, he had projected an image of himself to him. When he had decided to attack Sauron he had gathered atoms together in his will, and prepared to send a burst of energy at him in the same way as a man would when pulling back his arm to punch an opponent.

When he arrived at Khazad-dm he saw for himself that the Dwarves had been busy indeed. He entered by way of the West-gate, and there he saw in person how they had carved the great caverns, altering the water courses of the underground rivers in order to create living space for themselves. He beheld the great pillars they had shaped from the living rock, and though he grudgingly admitted to himself that they were beautiful and impressive, he felt slighted by the fact that the Dwarves did not appear to appreciate the beautiful work he had originally done himself. He believed himself to have created a gorgeous garden of stone, equally as deserving of conservation and careful attention as any garden of the Elves. He continued further inside, until he discovered the place where Adzarek had fallen.

He found it by following the Dwarves, who were jabbering away about the great accident that had taken place in the Ancient Gallery. It had needed to be specially shored up by Halin because years of chipping away at it, though it had been carefully done, had created fractures in the rock around the vein of mithril they had been mining. This was very dangerous, because the particular tunnel that had needed the special shoring up was three feet underneath another tunnel that had been excavated following another vein of mithril, which was five feet under yet another tunnel associated with the same vein. Angw had designed these mithril layers to support the main structure of that particular part of the mountain, as above these three tunnels was a massive layer of iron ore, and over that the rock was very dense and heavy. The Dwarves should have backfilled it, but they knew they had not yet extracted all the mithril there, and had been attempting to work out a safe way of doing so.

Angw was furious at the greed of these creatures. They risked bringing a substantial portion of the mountain down on top of themselves, which would, of course, destroy all of those pretty pillars they were so satisfied with. This could theoretically cause a massive disaster; a rock slide that would shave a fair few feet off the height of the mountain, which would crash into the lake, which would cause a great flood and mudslide right down the foothills and into the Celebrant River, polluting it. The solution was backfilling each of those three tunnels before it was too late. The problem was getting them to see that. Hovering at the end of the Ancient Gallery, he listened to what the Dwarves were saying to each other.

A great crowd of Dwarves were in a long line, digging carefully through the rubble, trying to understand what had happened. Halin was there, and he was hysterical because he feared that his son, who had been missing for two weeks now, was under the rubble. He also felt intense guilt both for the way he had treated Adzarek the last time he had spoken to him, and for the fact that this tunnel had collapsed. "I have told you over and over again," he was wailing at the foreman, "I have no idea why this tunnel collapsed. It was properly shored up and has been fine for the last sixty years. The wood was sound and dry. I cannot understand why it gave way like that."

Halin slumped to the floor. He had already given up all hope of finding Adzarek alive. In fact, there was a smell in the air that told him that his son was most definitely dead, but he wanted, needed to see him, even a part of him, so he could actually accept that he was gone from his life and he would see him no more. Then a young dwarf in protective clothing approached them. "Halin," he said gravely, "we found this."

"This" was a large hammer. It was largely intact, but it was chipped and the handle was badly scored by the impact of the falling rocks.

"Oh, no, Lord Khaghar forbid!" Halin screamed. "My son would not do such a thing! I will not accept it!"

Another Dwarf appeared, an appalling stench wafting in behind him. "We have found Adzarek," he said gently.

Angw moved into the tunnel, where Dwarves were shifting the debris very carefully. It was now apparent why it had taken two weeks to get to this point. All three tunnels had collapsed as he would have predicted, but in doing so they had exposed and provided the mithril that the Dwarves had been trying to find a safe way to get at. This new space no longer needed shoring up because the layer of iron ore above had not fractured. While the mithril had indeed served its weight-bearing purpose, it was redundant because the rest of the mountain had been built so sturdily. This did not appease Angw, though. The fact that a greater disaster could have happened because of these creatures' greed for wealth annoyed him. He refused to risk more damage being done to his mountain. They had to stop the mining at once!

He considered his position for a moment. He had already tried using a Dwarf as a prophet, to speak on his behalf. This had failed spectacularly because the Dwarf in question had been young and a bit too impressionable. He had panicked and, in doing so, had made things worse. Angw toyed for a moment with the idea of appearing right then and there in person to the Dwarves. This could easily create another panic, and he was already in serious trouble with Aul his master for his part in the death of Adzarek. Precipitating a stampede among the Dwarves would probably kill more of them, compounding his error. Driving the Dwarves out, then setting himself up as a lord in Khazad-dm would put him on the level of Melkor and Sauron, who had set up their own realms on Middle Earth and were attempting to expand them. Still, this was the mountain he had made and he was being forced, he felt, to make a stark choice: either let it go and leave it to the Dwarves to shape according to their needs and desires, or reclaim it for himself, which would put him in enmity with all of the Valar. Neither of these was particularly desirable. What could he do?

As he pondered these things, a stretcher was brought and Adzarek was carried out. Halin followed it, wailing for his son. Angw followed them to see what would happen. There was a possibility that Halin would remember the prophesy of Adzarek.

The bearers brought the stretcher to a chamber where the dead were usually treated prior to burial. They had rubbed a strong smelling paste under their nostrils to mask the stench, which was now very strong. Adzarek's face was discoloured and his body was grotesquely bloated. The burial masters had dealt with mining accident victims before, and had a procedure for dealing with these. They filled a large tub with cold water and put ammonia, vinegar and a strong salt solution into it. Then they added pine tar and extracts from various plants and placed Adzarek inside. While he was soaking, they removed his clothes. These were immediately burnt. When he had been in there for two days they removed his entrails, washed them, filled them with an antiseptic paste and put them in a cloth bag in a clay pot full of salt and sand. Fragrant herbs were added. Meanwhile, they emptied the tub and removed and washed the body. They cleaned that tub while Adzarek was put in another, similar tub. First they put a layer of rock salt down. Then they put the body in a shroud and covered it with more salt with fragrant herbs added. This had the effect of drying out the body and making it smell better. Two days later, they took the body out, washed it again and put the entrails back in, reconnecting them and stitching back the belly. Adzarek was now ready for his funeral.

Angw was fascinated. He had never witnessed Dwarven burial rites before. He continued to observe as Adzarek's body was dressed in his finest clothes by his parents. He was, at this time, wearing a silver mask thoughtfully provided by the burial masters, who had painted the body with a sweet-smelling paste and bandaged it all over before permitting this. They had refused outright to allow them to see their son beforehand.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When Halin and Bls, Adzarek's parents, were ready, they stepped back from the body and each of them lovingly kissed the burial mask. Then they gently lifted their broken son onto an elaborate bier and carried it to the Chamber of Tombs, which was deep inside the cave complex, away from the mine workings. Halin's family had a private crypt, and there they took their son.

Silence reigned supreme throughout Khazad-dm as Halin and Bls carried their son's bier to his final resting place in the Chamber of Tombs. Dwarves bowed respectfully, some touching their foreheads with two fingers of their right hands as Adzarek's parents carried him past. As a mark of respect, all work was suspended that day as Halin buried his son.

The corporate show of sympathy was lost on Halin as he made his way along, the weight of the bier jolting his arms and shoulders with each step, on a journey that seemed to take forever. Anger at his son's actions warred with grief at the loss of his child and shame at the way he had treated him the last time he saw him. Adzarek had so believed in his vision, he was willing to give his life to prove it was true. He had insisted that Lord Khaghar told him to tell his people to stop mining in Khazad-dm, and Halin had not wanted to believe him because that would have meant telling the people to stop digging for the mithril they craved. This would have lost him all the credibility and respect he had worked so hard to build, and he simply could not afford it.

Now the circumstances of Adzarek's death were damaging his reputation anyway. Clinging to his status had not availed him, and he had lost his son, to boot. He wanted to rail at the injustice of it all, but he might lose any sympathy his people might be feeling for him. Now was a time for ceremony and ritual, with everything, including the expression of his feelings, in its proper place. The sooner the torture of the rituals and the funeral meals and visitations were over with, Halin concluded, the better. Then he would be able to work his way through his complicated emotions in peace.

The closest friends and family members crowded the Chamber of Tombs, where the Master of Tombs presided. He was dressed all in black and wore a wooden burial mask that covered his beard as well. The mask was very plain, to show sympathy with even the poorest of his people. On his hands were gloves that looked like burial bandages. There were similar wrappings around his neck. This was to show sympathy with those who could not lay their dead out looking like they were merely asleep, but had to hide appalling injuries or worse. He smelt of the antiseptic preservatives used on the dead. Sweet-smelling wood mixed with certain herbs burned in special receptacles on either side of him. As soon as Adzarek's parents, sorrowfully carrying their load, were directly in front of him, the service began.

"Whom have ye brought here?" The Master of Tombs intoned.

"Adzarek son of Halin," Halin replied.

"How did he die?" the Master asked, according to the usual formula.

Halin hesitated. He could not bring himself to lie to the Master of Tombs at his son's funeral. All eyes were upon him. Rumours had been buzzing around Khazad-dm that Adzarek had contrived the accident that had killed him by knocking down the support beams. Halin could sense the people straining to hear what he would say, and the tension he felt became unbearable.

"I am not sure," he said at last. "We found him buried under a pile of rubble in the Ancient Gallery, which had apparently collapsed. A large hammer was found nearby. No-one can be certain of exactly what happened there," he added defensively.

A sussuration of whispers went around the Chamber but convention had been satisfied, so the Master directed the parents to lay the bier down on a stone catafalque that had been constructed for the purpose. The Master then stepped aside and invited Halin to come and stand beside him, facing the crowd, to give an account of his son's life. His wife Bls added her thoughts, and the Master commended the soul of Adzarek to the care of Mahal, Maker of the Khazd people, in his Halls. The body was lifted respectfully from the catafalque and placed in the crypt. Then the crowd, including the parents, adjourned to Halin's quarters for the funerary meal. The Master disrobed and washed in his private room in the Chamber of Tombs, and changed into festive garb. Dwarven funerals were usually a celebration of the deceased's life, at which the family were comforted with the Dwarven belief that the soul would one day be reborn.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Angw followed the procession to Halin's quarters to observe the funerary meal. Halin sat beside his wife Bls at his table, with Adzarek's empty seat unfilled beside them. Friends served the meal, and those who were not seated at the table, which had room for six at most, stood around eating from plates which they filled from platters that had been left on every available surface. The wake spilled out into the main communal corridor, and spare tables had been set up there to hold food and drink for those who had come to sympathise. They had brought all of the food and drink - the grieving parents were not supposed to provide a thing for the wake. Angw circulated, an invisible presence among them, listening in to their conversations. There was much being made of the apparent madness of Adzarek by some while others defended him, proclaiming him a hero who had tried to save them all from a worse disaster by correcting the angle of the support beams with the hammer he had wielded.

"Nonetheless," declared one stout fellow, "Khaghar Lord of Miners knows what happened, and he will bring it out into the open sooner or later, mark my words."

"Hear, hear," others assented, and the conversation returned to the comfort they could offer the grieving couple on the death of their only son.

Khaghar Lord of Miners, who was usually known as Angw, considered this. This could be the opportunity he had been hoping for - the opportunity to persuade the Dwarves to stop mining his mountain. He approached Halin, who was snuffling softly into his beard, holding the hammer that had been found near his son's body. He whispered this thought to his mind: "Remember the prophesy of Adzarek, who came to you in the middle of the night to tell you of the dream Khaghar sent him."

Halin looked up, startled.

The voice whispered in his thoughts again: "Remember why you spoke to him that way."

Halin was trying to block that memory, but Angw was pushing it as hard as he could. While he felt bad about compounding the Dwarf's grief, it was important to him to get him to remember the prophesy in order that he might repeat it to the assembly. He battered the Dwarf's consciousness again.

"Father, please," Adzarek begged, "please understand me, this is important..."

"Adzarek," Halin warned, "if you do not show me respect by going back to bed as I have bidden you, I will drag you back there by your beard and lock you in! Is that what you want?"

"But Father..."

Halin wept. He sobbed desperately, wiping his face with his beard.

Angw had to harden his heart to continue. This was getting to him, causing him to feel the same guilt and shame that Halin was. By hardening his heart and focussing on what he wanted - the cessation of the mining, he was able to shut out the emotions that made him want to scuttle off back to the Mansions of Aul in Valinor and beg pardon of his master. He sent his thoughts to Halin: "What did he want you to understand?"

"Lord Khaghar!" Halin shouted unexpectedly.

Everyone looked at him.

"Lord Khaghar appeared to him! That's what he said! Something about stopping the digging in this mountain, it's sacred to Lord Khaghar because he himself made it. We have to stop right now or a great curse will fall upon us! That's what he said! That's what he was trying to tell me, and I wouldn't listen. I ordered him back to his room. I'm sorry! I'm sorry! And now the curse has fallen, and all because I wouldn't listen! He could not persuade me and was punished for it! We have to stop the digging! Promise me you'll dig no more," he pleaded, looking desperately around him.

Silence descended on the room like a cave-in. Palpable tension expanded from Halin, enveloping everyone in the room until every fibre of every being was stilled. Halin knew he had just committed a heinous blasphemy, as far as the others were concerned. His breathing rate sped up; he was gasping like a fish.

One by one, the people in the room began to leave, until Halin was alone with his wife. Bls held his hand. "The warmth of their love grows weak," she said, "and their hearts begin to turn against you. 'Twas in the moment of your grief that you spoke thus, and you should speak of it no more, or you may well find that their comfort will grow cold."

"'I will go back to bed, Father, and pray Lord Khaghar does not punish me for failing to convince you,'" Halin quoted. "Those were the last words I heard our son say. Should I just pretend I never heard them? They will haunt my waking hours for the rest of my life!"

"Perhaps our people will consider this," Bls said patiently, "but do not be surprised if they reject this prophesy, and you along with it. More mithril they have found where the Ancient Gallery once was, and they will take this as a sign that our son was mistaken and his words should be ignored. May Mahal have mercy upon us if Khaghar will not," she added piously.

Angw had heard enough. He intruded on the couple's grief no more. Indeed, he took no further interest in Halin and his wife. Angw made another trip to the Ancient Gallery. The Dwarf woman had spoken truly - great piles of mithril ore had been exposed and much had already been carted away. There was no possibility of stopping the mining by means of sending prophetic visions to chosen people. If he wanted to stop the desecration of his mountain, he would have to do something more obvious. The question facing him was, did he want to be forever sundered from his master Aul and the other Valar forever? Would he be willing to do the work of Melkor in order to be allowed to achieve his desires? Could he really associate himself with evil, with all that would entail, and all for the sake of his mountain? As he pondered this, he noticed how the Dwarves had effectively erased his handiwork to exalt their own. That was what moved him to make his decision. Aul clearly had no interest in what was important to him. He was Angw's master, expecting him to be but an obedient empty vessel, willing to be filled with desire to do his master's will. But what about his own will? What about that? Angw's decision was made: from this point on, he would do what he wanted, not what he was told.

He made his way to Angband to seek out his brother Sauron and his master Morgoth. He would agree to do Morgoth's will, whatever that might entail, on condition that he would be allowed the lordship of Khazad-dm. Since Morgoth would one day rule all the world, surely it was not much to ask.

TBC...

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