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The Ilion Vector

Challenge: Natural Disasters: Plague

Summary: Diplomacy is war by other means.


“The Elves, papa!” Dyanar whispered fearfully, clutching the guest-fare board close.

“They’re harmless, sweeting,” Chosga reassured. “Mayhap even helpful!” Sun-sick after centuries in Khand’s prisons, the pale elven prisoners might ransom the Tower-Lord’s men from Springstrong. Chosga’s people remembered still the Greenleaves soldiers’ wildness in the Great War: better barter than battle!

He welcomed therefore the Elders’ decision to lend wains, hastening Mordor’s mission.

Moreover, the tribe was blessed to take Dorwinion’s wine to Osgiliath’s markets. The first of many commissions, hopefully: in peaceful commerce lay prosperity.

May such spread, he thought, and wished the Elf coughing wetly nearby well.


Notes: 1. The Great Plague, which wiped out so much of Gondor’s population, devastating southern Arnor and the Shire, also hit Rhovanion with peculiar force. UT has it that the plague first manifests in Rhovanion, and from there spreads south to Gondor, where it hits Osgiliath hard. How to explain this vector, especially on the assumption that Mordor Did It since, according to LOTR's Appendices, "a deadly plague came with dark winds out of the East"? Rhovanion isn't so much east as north of Gondor, after all.

There has to be some evidence that the plague comes from an easterly direction, then heads north to devastate Rhovanion primarily during the winter, and only then spreads south. There also has to be a line of transmission for a disease hitherto unknown that would appear to Gondor to have come from the East first, instead of from the North.

Hence Elves and Wainriders. Re: Elves: 1) the prisoners’ people live in Eryn Lasgalen, right on the edge of Rhovanion so that gives geographical connection between the plague’s origin and its first appearance on the northern front, and 2) on the assumption that the plague was a device of Sauron, Elves seem like the ultimate in Ardaverse biological weaponry. They hardly ever get sick, which must mean their immune systems are pretty tough. Whatever sickness a Dark Lord could breed over centuries of prisoner experimentation carried out in black sites in Khand by his Ringwraiths, and which survived the elven T-cell onslaught, would be pretty devastating to all other forms of life once it took hold.

The Nazgûl were great sorcerers and alchemists, and were trained by a Maia in many arts: they should be capable of some crackerjack viral eugenics ‘til they bred what Sauron wanted – something with, perhaps, a long- or medium-term incubation period, so that Mordor could then Trojan-horses the disease into Mirkwood through an apparent prisoner swap, meanwhile infecting every holding in Rhovanion that the escort came across. Once winter hit, and everyone in Rhovanion was forced inside, carriers would spread it like wildfire, making what had been isolated cases of plague into a major epidemic. On the other side of political allegiance, the merchants from the also devastated and slowly rebuilding Wainrider tribes, not all of whom may have been that eager for war and revenge, would spread the disease along the trade routes to Gondor and back into their own people’s hinterlands.

2. “Springstrong”: Thranduil’s name rendered into Chosga’s native language.


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