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76
The Wraith's Report

For Aruthir's birthday. Beta by RiverOtter.


~~~

The Wraith’s Report


“And what wouldst thou do here within Barad-dűr, Khaműl?”

The Nazgűl hissed its displeasure at having to deal with this--servant. “I answer not to thee, snaga, but to him.”

“But our dread Lord is busy now, thinking on policy. Thy report?”

“And who art thou, with thy lesser Ring, to question me? The Mouth of Sauron they might call thee, but it is ever thine own mouth we who have served our Master for well over an Age of the Sun have heard!”

The Herald for the Lord of Mordor snarled, “That name is forbidden!”

The Ring-wraith laughed, and even the Herald shuddered at the sound.

“Thy report?” he requested anew, tempering his anger, adding slyly, “Or didst thou, too, require a new steed?”

The Dark Lord’s Steward of Dol Guldur became more grim with anger. “And are we to blame when our Lord’s gifts to us are vulnerable to such simple weapons as bows and bolts?” The two glared at one another until the Mouth shuddered and looked away. Only then, at this sign of victory, small as it was, did the Nazgűl continue. “I have been west of the great river to learn of the nature of the storm that stood over the Mountains of Mist.”

“And?”

Another hissing. At last Khaműl continued, “Our Lord’s servant there is dead, its hröa destroyed and its fëa fled. I found what little remained of it atop the mountain under which it was sheltered. All of the snow atop the mountain was melted away, and the rock scorched with its last flames.”

“And this happened how?”

“And how am I to know?” demanded the wraith, the hiss of its voice filled with the expression of the impotence it felt.

“The reports from Moria tell of the Grey Fool falling there, with the Master’s servant, from the broken bridge. The orcs sent with the message swear that they saw this. Didst thou see aught of him?”

“And how would either of them have survived such a fall?” asked the Nazgűl.

Again the Mouth shuddered, although this time the disturbance was not because of his companion. He responded in a low tone, “Such as either of them is not precisely easy to destroy.”

Khaműl gave what in others might have been a snort, but which from him sounded particularly ominous. “I have seen but a Man’s seeming upon the Grey Fool. Destroy the seeming, and he will be forced to flee away!” He seethed in thought for a moment, hissing softly. At last he said, “I saw no sign of that one--not save this: a place where the snow lay yet unmelted, as if it had been overlain by a lean body, one bereft of heat.”

“And if the Grey Fool did indeed lie there, then what became of his body?”

“Who can say?” The wraith gave a shrug. “There were eagles flying about the peaks, although they gave way to me and my steed. Mayhaps they fed on him?”

The Mouth laughed grimly. “Mayhaps they did indeed! Fitting--that one’s servants feeding on the Grey Fool’s remains, don’t you think?”

For the first time the Mouth detected a sense of amusement in the wraith. “Oh,” it hissed, “fitting indeed!”

And together they laughed cruelly before the wraith took its leave to return to its captain.

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