Gaergath continued to stand there, stunned, while his father looked him in the eye, his cruelly handsome features arranged into the semblance of love and happiness at being finally reunited with his estranged offspring.
“Have you naught to say to me, my lad?” he asked, with a veneer of sadness and remorse. “When I received word that you were here, I lost no time in coming, for all that your mother and I have not been close recently. She had even hidden you from me so that I could not get in touch with you. But now, at last…we meet. I admit to having been negligent. I can offer no excuses for that. But perhaps we can see a way to become friends eventually, and put the past be--”
“I think not,” the boy said at last, a trifle astonished at himself for finding his voice at last. “She ‘hid’ me from you, did she? I doubt it. Somehow I do not believe that is even possible.”
“No doubt she thought she was protecting you,” Sauron said, in that voice that had become velvety, melodious, melancholy, as if weary of a burden he had borne for a lifetime. “I commend her on that, but there was no need. I would never have done you harm, and would not have allowed any other to do so.”
“Oh, of course,” Gaergath snapped. Did Sauron really think he was such an idiot? “And I suppose you had naught to do with what she did to my mother? My true mother?”
“Your true mother?” Sauron puckered his forehead.
“So you are going to pretend you know naught of it?” the boy exclaimed. “I can scarce believe such audacity, even from you.”
“There is no pretense, I assure you,” Sauron said smiling. “Pray tell me what has transpired.”
“Well, if you really must know--which most likely, you know already,” Gaergath said, glancing at the wolf once more, who had not moved from his master’s side, “one day--”
“Oh, and this is my friend Drauglir,” Sauron said, as he noticed the boy looking at the animal, reaching down a hand to stroke the silvery fur. “Splendid fellow, is he not? Actually I think he should be called Draugluin--his coat has a bluish cast to it, which you might see if the light were better. He--”
“Draugluin?” Gaergath stared at the wolf. Its eyes were red-gold, rimmed with black, with something both human and bestial in them, and those eyes were fixed on Gaergath. “The…”
“You have heard tell of him already, I see,” Sauron smiled. “If you stay about long enough, he will make a most astonishing transformation.”
Gaergath continued to gaze at the beast in silence.
“No need to fear him,” Sauron said stroking the creature with a fondness that had something slightly obscene in it. “He has fed already. A rather splendid antelope crossed his path and met its end. Perhaps some of its swiftness and grace will be incorporated into Drauglir’s being, for a time at least.”
I’ll just bet it was an antelope, thought Gaergath repressing a shudder. Then he wondered if Sauron could read his thoughts, and told himself to be more careful.
“I need be going,” he said as blandly as possible. “The transformation sounds most interesting, but unfortunately I have other plans for the night. So if you will excuse me, I must be on my way. Nice to have met you at least.”
“If you must,” Sauron said with a little sigh of feigned regret. “I doubt I will stay long, at that. Your mother’s friends and I are not all on the best of terms.”
“What a shame,” Gaergath said making a move to the door in the wall. “Now, if you will excuse me?”
“You need not use the door,” Sauron reminded him. “Your cloak will take you over the wall, remember?”
“I don’t like to use it when others are about,” Gaergath said. “’Tis like having someone watch when one is trying to take a piss.”
Sauron laughed aloud. Drauglir growled. Gaergath looked at the wolf, then glanced away quickly, lest the creature’s eyes mesmerize him.
“Very well then,” Sauron said, still laughing, and moving away from the door…so that the boy could see it was chained closed. He had not noticed the chain before. “But how will you break the chain? It looks rather strong and heavy.”
Gaergath raised his eyebrows and looked innocently at his father. “Perhaps…you might break it for me?”
“If I had a hammer or axe,” Sauron said with a sad face, “I might do so. Perhaps you’ve one in the house or the shed?”
“Never mind,” Gaergath said. “I shall just have to leap over, I suppose, whether I’m watched or not. Well, here goes…”
He bent his knees rather dramatically, glancing once more at Drauglir, and sprang…with the result of landing a couple of feet forward, nearly stumbling to his knees.
He looked back at his father, who was watching with uplifted eyebrows, then turned his eyes ahead once more, bent his knees and sprang again.
He narrowly missed landing in a thorny bush. Sauron put a hand to his lips.
Gaergath tried a third time.
“’Tis not cooperating,” Sauron noted folding his arms and pursing up his lips.
“That is your doing, I am sure,” Gaergath said coolly. “You are trying to keep me here.”
Sauron shook his dark head. “You do not seem to be one with the cloak tonight, my lad. ‘Twill not function unless one is fully attuned to it. Rather like certain body parts on mortal men…and women. Well, that is too bad for whomever you were going to visit, my son. I hope she was not expecting you. Or he, as the case may be. But there will be another time, surely. So. It looks as if you will get to witness Drauglir’s transformation after all?”
“Seems I have no other choice,” Gaergath said sullenly pulling the cloak closer to him as if it had grown colder, which it had.
He noticed the wolf was of uncommon size for one of its kind, and felt profoundly uneasy.
“Or if you do not wish to attend this gathering,” Sauron said, “I have another idea. Why not come with me to my dwelling? It is most impressive, far more than this dreary place. In very truth, you might come there to live, if you like. Why come back here anyway? Come with me, and we will see and conquer the world. You and I together. What say you?”
“What of her?” Gaergath said with an unnecessary jerk of his head toward the house. He found, somewhat to his dismay, that his father’s voice was most persuasive.
“What of her?” Sauron said with a shrug. “We simply leave her here with her ever so charming blood-drinking friends. We owe her naught. She will not be happy at having lost you once again, and will become rather nasty, I imagine. She does not take kindly to not getting her own way. But what of it? She cannot harm me. Nor you, if you are in my custody.”
“I want her dead,” Gaergath said, then was appalled at himself for giving away his intentions. “Or, at least, I think I do. If only I can be sure that my mother’s spirit is not trapped inside of her.”
There, it was out. Sauron looked thoughtfully at the boy.
“If you wish her dead,” he said, “then perhaps I can destroy her for you.”
“You would just do that, without a thought?” Gaergath looked at him through narrowed eyes. “But…”
“She is no use to me any more,” Sauron said, “and she has betrayed and plotted against me. That's what I get for enabling her and teaching her to use her powers. She tried to keep me from you, and she is using you in order to try to bring me down. As for your ‘mother’s spirit’ being trapped within her, that is but one of her tricks. She is full of evil wiles and she knows how to use them. But she is vulnerable also, and it will be no huge matter for us to bring her down. You might even take her place as messenger to Melkor, if you like.”
Gaergath stared at his father. Might he prove an ally after all? Then again, was not Sauron just as full of evil wiles as She, and might he not be lying? Just what did he want with Gaergath, anyway?
Perhaps, if he were to go with Sauron, it would be the best revenge. Celirwen would be furious, and impotent against the power of her former lover. And there would be naught she could do, and he might well catch her off her guard and strike her down without mercy, when he had her just where he wanted her.
He could deal with Sauron much later.
“Let's go,” he said.