PartIV Chapter 4
The Dark, Quest Day 11
The Dark Lord waited for three from the Quest
He sensed their coming to challenge his might
He mocked what from future they possessed
For he saw the flaw in Quest’s given right.
Against their feeble virtue, he contrived
With all Rings reforged into Dark’s accord
And bringing as one two Lords of Darkness
He would arise like none other revived
To take the mantle of Dark’s Supreme Lord
And enshroud The Light in evil baseness.
Night had fallen with a menacing pall. The moon was masked and an eerie hush arose from Middle-earth; breathless it paused as if waiting for a momentous event to occur.
But nothing of the night could be seen from where Sauron stood. For the world here glowed blood red; for in a seething swelter, fierce and furious the fire’s flames flew. His mammoth furnace spat out its vengeance in vicious sparks of blaze and glare. It heaved tortuous sounds of engorgement, devouring all matter fed to it in its attempt to attain the ferocity to which it was driven. The entire cavern was filled with toxic fumes, induced by the fury of Dark’s intent. The blistering heat and miasma were unbearable; they choked the throat, seared the flesh and scorched every breath of those who were standing on its edge. Solely the Dark Lord was unaffected by its frenzy; for he was close now to achieving a final piece of supremacy. For here had been erected a replica inferno, which had once lay at the heart of Mount Doom. It had forged in secret beneath the plains, hidden from view, for he wished his foes to be caught unawares; finally, it was ready to recast the Rings.
He had dismissed all except two, leaving a triad to be a party to the ritual: the Dark Lord, his Captain and Edhros, the great Smith of the Mirdain.
A massive cauldron hovered above the flames, suspended on large iron levers, like a gigantic hawk of Mordor swooping atop the ridges of the Ashen Mountains. The air was scorching, burning in accord with the fire and the evil surging within him. But the three were engrossed in the ritual.
Edhros had placed the twelve Rings of Power in the cauldron, and in deep-throated chant sent this into the fire. The iron vessel groaned and disappeared beneath the flames, and in response, from the flares a blinding shaft catapulted to the ceiling of the cavern and radiating out, swallowing the dark reaches with a brilliance that stunned the three. The Dark Lord screamed to the Smith, his voice barely carrying beyond the din of the conflagration and grinding of pulleys.
The Captain turned the levers and the cauldron writhed uncontrollably then shuddered, and with a gasp of hissing gases, rose out of the flame. It hung precariously, swinging back and forth, then as the Smith cranked a giant wheel, it swung across to a vast basalt vat.
Sauron then began a mantra. A menacing growl that engulfed the cavern with shadow and jarring tones which resonated off the walls, the sound then consumed by the cauldron. Sauron continued ever increasing the roar of his incantation, until, of its own volition the vessel slowly tipped over the vat. A monstrous plume soared from the fire, obscuring the pouring. As it dissipated, sparking and flaring as it faded to nothingness, the Smith pulled the vat to where Sauron waited.
Sauron peered into the vat spluttering from its scalding brew. On its base, still smoldering, was a single ring, glittering gold amidst a stygian aura, engraved with the words of The Dark:
Eno kinv ex olauq he htoOqgon hkoo: he zkinv wukrnojj he uqq’
Sauron reached into the vat, his eyes glowing with lust. This ring, the Ring of the DarkMoon, empowered with an essence of The Dark and in its fusion of the twelve, was the equal to the power of Narya, Nenya and Vilya when they were united in the hands of their original maker, Celebrimbor; however, their powers had been diffused as they were passed on to others. So the DarkMoon Ring had dominion and control over the three Elven Rings; it was as Sauron willed, and furthermore, he had a trump card.
The DarkMoon Ring was not equal to The One Ring, which forever had been destroyed, nonetheless, he had taken possession of the Isengard Ring, which, with the ancient codes, would be reforged into the nine lesser rings of the Nazgûl and by their linking with that of the DarkMoon, create Dark’s Band of Power.
As Sauron put on the DarkMoon Ring, it gleamed with a deadly golden ray; then he roared:
‘Smith, the nine, hasten before the fire ebbs.’
The Smith positioned the Isengard Ring in the cauldron, and the Captain fired the flame; it burst alive with crimson leaping flares and invigorated venom, eager to receive the next offering. As the Smith started to recite the bidding of the rite, the two watched the cauldron submerge itself into the fiery pit, shrieking in its searing passage.
The Smith became silent; Sauron continued on. His mantra commenced with a low drone, building into a rasping call and then a raging crescendo that echoed with such ferociousness that the whole cavern shook.
The cauldron convulsed, and did not rise.
Sauron resumed his chanting, his eyes ablaze with vexation, reflecting the flaming of the fire. The Smith and Captain, muttering to themselves, both urging the vessel upward.
The fire took on a renewed fierceness, as if it not wanting to relinquish its prize, a hail of molten jets exploded around and out of the cauldron, it appeared to be sliding deeper into the inferno.
The Dark Lord’s scowl deepened, his frustration changed to rage; for the Smith looking on panic set in, the consequences of failure were grim. Edhros ran to the levers and tried to raise the cauldron. Sauron shrieked at the Smith to leave them alone, the cauldron must resurface without external interference. The Smith stepped back.
Sauron went to the rim of the fire, and arms outstretched called upon the Furies of Melkor.
There was deathly silence; even the tumult of the fire was stifled: these Furies had not been invoked for untold millennia. The Smith staggered with fear, the Captain tremored with concern of the wiseness of the Master’s calling these creatures to their aid.
The silence shivered with a muted whirling whine, which formed into a pulsating wailing current and brought with it a whirlpool of black plumes, so dense that it was impossible to see or hear anything-else.
It lasted merely a few minutes, and when the cloud lifted, the cauldron was steaming with a blue vapor, and rising; it moved hesitantly towards the vat, howling as it spewed its contents into it.
The Smith reached for the vat. He had trouble pulling it, almost stumbling into the fire. Sauron glared, snarling. Eventually, Edhros forced it to swing over to where Sauron was standing, awaiting it. The steam evaporated, and there were nine rings of yellow-gold inscribed with the saying,
‘Nino kinvj zeanw uj zoxeko
Qinrow zb Hto Wukr unw ihj qako.’
Linked by The Dark and its lore.
Sauron reached in the vat and retrieved the rings.
The Smith stepped forward to look at the nine. It was with trepidation that the Smith had adapted the code to accommodate Sauron’s altered plans. The Dark Lord had instructed Edhros that with the Elven prophecies and the Isengard Ring they had to recalibrate the recasting. The Dark Lord was confident that the magical factor applied, but an opportunity presented to create one ring that would be more powerful than the three separate Eleven Rings, and the Isengard Ring could be transformed into the nine Nazgûl rings, binding the ten altogether as an invincible Dark Band of Power.
The Smith had been apprehensive with these last minute changes but was delighted with the delivered outcome.
The Smith had toyed with how to remind Sauron of his promised ‘great reward’. For although Edhros thought that Sauron respected his smithing skills, Edhros was aware Sauron did not tolerate being told or questioned on any matter. The fate of the second Nazgûl had brought home this lesson. So Edhros held back for Sauron to mention the reward; it was obvious what this should be. After all, Edhros had found the code and executed the craft which created the nine lower-rings, and only eight were now needed.
Sauron was conversing with his Captain; and then motioned Edhros to leave, however, Edhros wanted to resolve the issue of the reward prior to departing. So reluctantly Edhros, ventured to speak to Sauron.
‘Master, may I please ask you of the ‘great reward’ you promised,’ trembling with this daring.
‘Great reward Mirdain…what great reward?’ Sauron retorted.
‘When I uncovered the cannon for reforging the rings, so you pledged.’
Sauron glowered at Edhros, then replied in a threatening snarl, that Edhros should have heeded and withdrawn:
‘Of what great reward do you think you deserve?’
Edhros halted, and despite the warnings, felt compelled to put a case for the ring.
‘My Lord,’ Edhros stammered:
‘Should you not need the ninth ring, since... then the ninth ring...’
Sauron did not answer, addressing his Captain and jeering in indignation:
‘A ring should go to the eight Nazgûl; deliver the ninth to the Lieutenant.’
The Smith said nothing, realising the peril, but having no escape.
Sauron gave the nine rings to the Captain, turning his back on the Smith:
‘There will be no need for any more rings, give the Mirdain what is deserved.’
With that the Captain picked up Edhros, and threw the Mirdain into the flames.
The chamber was almost pitch dark, a single flickering candle its only light. The murals on the walls and ceiling grimaced in writhing shadows. An icy draft from an unknown source gusted around the space, giving a cutting chill to the air; however, the three were oblivious to it.
The Dark Lord and Saruman were sitting at the table, a metal container positioned in front of them. The Captain stood in a far corner, lost in the murkiness.
Saruman chanted in an ancient tongue; calling to the container and those from the past:
Then as the Wizard opened the container, from which radiated a brilliant burgundy ray:
Saruman lifted the red Silmaril out, then the vial. He placed them carefully on a cloth of woven sapphire and gold silk.
The chamber and Saruman’s palantir started to pulsate.
A shadowy crimson beam emerged and swirled inside and beyond the orb, and with the glow came a thundering peal that rung in rhythm, then as the beam grew in luminosity, the pealing faded into a distant trill. An oppressive pall pervaded the chamber, enshrouding the three, but the Dark Lord and Wizard did not falter from their course.
Saruman sitting opposite the Dark Lord looked up and could not avoid staring into Sauron’s face in deep trance, in the murky gloom, it took on a terrifying appearance; the sallow complexion with a reddish tinge, raven-coloured hair hanging disheveled, the deep-set eyes closed searching beneath bulging lids, the thin taut mouth poised to deliver venom... As Saruman was transfixed on the expression, the lips ordered:
Saruman’s hands trembled, but the Wizard quickly recovered composure.
In this momentary pause, Sauron came out of his trance, and glared at Saruman.
Saruman felt compelled to remind Sauron of the immense power to be unleashed, unlike that ever attempted, in a realm of the Valar or elsewhere; that no-one could be assured of the consequences, but Sauron glowered and commanded:
‘Speak not of this. Break not the spell. Know though Wizard, should anything not go exactly as planned, my Captain has instructions to immediately put you to death.’
Saruman did not flinch, it was expected.
As the rite had demanded, two Maiar were required to initiate the spell. Saruman took the vial from its sheath and laid a hand over the vial, and Sauron covered this with his gloved- hand. Saruman had never touched or been touched by The Dark Lord, and reeled with the feeling, for the Dark Lord’s hand was ice cold, as if no life existed within it. Sauron perceived the Wizard’s repulsion, and he sneered, for it served him well for others to find him repulsive, exclaiming frustratedly:
‘Do not delay, say the words Wizard.’
Wfe vuyy otem wci xivkiwx eb wci gauy,
We yiw wci tefikx vemwuamin hi kiyiuxin,
We hi uhxekhin hz emi am omawz fawc
Wci xtakaw ciyn vutwagi egik am wci gean.
To let the powers contained be released,
To be absorbed by one in unity with
the spirit held captive in the void.
When Saruman finished the chant, the vial itself began to move, as if it had come to life. Though Saruman moved away from the vial, Sauron left his gloved-hand there, and a blood-red vapor seeped from the vial, running up Sauron’s arm, and in seconds engulfed the Dark Lord.
The Captain jumped out of the shadows to come to Sauron’s aid. Sauron waved his Captain away, and opening his mouth to speak, the vapor poured into his body. The Captain grabbed Sauron, and pulled his chair from the table, trying to remove him from the vapor, but the vapor had now all disappeared – absorbed by the Dark Lord. Sauron appeared in a stupor.
The Captain drew a sword and laid it against Saruman’s neck, screaming:
‘Your life, help our Lord!’
Saruman moved cautiously towards the Sauron, the Captain following, the sword threateningly pointed.
From what Saruman could observe, the Dark Lord seemed to be in a suspended unconscious state, his breathing heavy but not laboured. Saruman called to him, attempting to bring him to consciousness. The Captain pressed the Wizard to do more, becoming increasingly panicked and threatening.
The vision in Saruman’s palantir churning colours of flaring crimson and darkest vermillion, registering a mighty battle of wills manifesting within Sauron; his might tested to that of Melkor. If Melkor had not dissipated his powers by spreading his evil and destruction across Middle-earth, Saruman had no doubt that his spirit would overcome that of his disciple, but as he looked within the palantir the new titan was overcoming that of the old. The ceiling and the walls of the chamber throbbed with a snarling scarlet struggle. Minutes passed and the palantir whirled with the fusion of the blood-colours; the union of Dark’s dual wills.
Sauron stirred, and suddenly his eyes sprung open. He looked dazed at first, but stood up. He spoke, then hesitated, for from his mouth a deeper resonating bass voice arose as he uttered in Valarin,
‘Aþâra mâchan rušur’
Sauron grasped Saruman’s forearm, and his touch burned through Saruman’s thick woolen cloak, as though an inferno blazed internally. Sauron’s eyes once of ice, were bleeding a flaming red, reflecting the hatred and rage of the unifying of the Dark Lords.
Saruman passing the Silmaril on the cloth to Sauron, announced:
‘You must wear this my Lord. It will protect your self, balancing it with your new being.’
Sauron seized the jewel and linking it onto his golden chain, then placing it on.
The Captain scowled at Saruman, and snarled:
‘Why was this not given before... ?’
reaching for the sword.
Sauron intervened, calming his Captain’s wrath, saying in a measured utterance:
‘The Twelfth Day of the Quest is soon to dawn. Those of the Quest will face me. The Ancient One will have sensed now my synthesis with Melkor, yet he has not the power to resist it or me. I have spared you Wizard from the Captain’s sword, for now, you are useful to me to seek out their plans. The visions of the palantir have served us well in revealing the microcosm of the transmutation. I return it to you to track those of the Quest who will directly challenge me.
The Captain obviously disagreed with Sauron’s decision, but did not question it.
Sauron picked up the vial, though empty of its essence, it glowed with its force. He examined it intently, then dropped it, hitting the table with a deafening hollow thud. Saruman, who had leaned forward to see what had taken Sauron’s gaze, jumped back with its sound. He glanced at Sauron. Sauron paused; the Captain rushed to his side, asking if the Master needed assistance.
Sauron did not answer, but in picking up the vial, addressed the Wizard in a menacing whisper, and handling the vial to Saruman:
‘Did you know of the inscription?’
Saruman had not noticed the wording; he reasoned they appeared as the vial was drained. Saruman explained this to Sauron, who accepted this thinking, then directed:
‘Can you transcribe them...they are in a language not known to me.’
Saruman inspected the spiraling code; they bore the markings of a Rúmil script. Saruman knew in the Coffer of the Wise was a key to this script, though he had never used it.
‘The Coffer has a key,’ Saruman confirmed heedfully, not wanting to raise any false hope, although his predicament could not be more perilous.
‘Then you will have its meaning by my meeting with those of the Quest,’ Sauron responded matter-of-factly then motioned for Saruman to leave.
Saruman took the orb and emptied vial and bowed to Sauron, seeing from a window which the Captain had held ajar, the first rays of a birthing dawn. The Wizard was drawn to Sauron, who now stood with his Captain at the window; his whole form was sheathed in a spectral-red aura
Walking from the private chamber unescorted, the Wizard called upon the Maia ancestry they shared. It attested that there was to be no reprieve from enslavement to this unified Dark Lord, there would be no escape in this world or any other. Saruman reached the doors of the hall, and heard Sauron’s callous laugh and decree:
‘Better to have a live lure, for the Ancient Oneseeks the Isengard Wizard.