Gift of Rule, The
1. The Gift of Rule
"No," said another, "he was a servant of Morgoth who sought to perpetuate his evils."
"Not at all," a third disputed, "he seeks to atone for Morgoth's evils."
But all agreed he was neither Elf nor mortal.
He came before me in fair form. "I am Annatar, Lord of Gifts," he said. Clearly he was of a higher order, and I was awed before him; I hastened to make him welcome in my makeshift court. "I seek allies in the struggle to redeem this land," he continued. "Wherefore should Middle-earth remain forever desolate and dark? Is it not then our task to labor together for its enrichment?" he asked. And to me these words were sweet, and the goal most worthy.
"What would you of me, fair lord?"
"I would have your help against the disorder of Middle-earth."
"You have it. How may I be able to accomplish this?"
"You must unify your rule and extend your borders, that good order may prevail in these lands."
I must have gaped at him like a fool. "But lord, I have labored at that for years, and still rebellion persists! It is my most desperate desire to bring order, but it yet eludes my rule."
I had left Númenor with high hopes to come out to Middle Earth, the home of my forefathers, now sparsely populated with barbarians. These, I had been told, looked to our people as gods when they came with gifts and salvation in their hands, and they called Númenoreans 'the Sea Kings'. The natives were barely subsisting; we brought them new crops. They were dying untimely; we brought them medicines and knowledge of healing. Their boats were primitive; we taught them to build.
So I came to the land given me by my King to make my own. But he sent no army, it was up to me and those who came with me to win over the inhabitants, or establish my rule by force. I would be the lord of my own realm, a great prince under my King. Gaining land for Númenor, safety for our main settlements, and a kingdom for myself. I was eager and confident, then. But the reality proved otherwise.
The savages took what we gave and were grateful at first. But their memories were short, and when we asked return they begrudged us their land, their trees, their fealty, until we must use force to take what we needed.
And now this powerful being stood before me; his eyes bored into mine, and I felt there was no part of the unending struggle of the last years that he did not know.
"I will aid you in this, for I see your heart is like to mine. Take thou this ring," he held out the rich golden jewel, "and if you set it upon your finger, it will grant you strength and dominion over other men. When others look upon you, they will see your majesty, and those that did rebel, now will not stand against you."
"This is a mighty gift! From whence came such?"
"The elves in Eregion crafted it, with my aid. They have made nine for men, seven for the dwarf lords, and three for themselves. Each race shall have its chance." He smiled.
I am no elf-lover, but their skill with objects is legend, beginning with Feänor who captured the Light of the Trees in the Silmarils. If this ring could aid me in this noble enterprise, how could I refuse? Every year the prize of a kingdom glittered before me as this ring glittered in his hand, and always it dangled just out of my grasp.
And the aid this Lord would bring to me added much weight to his urgings. Who, if not the noble men of Númenor, would civilize these lands, bringing learning and skill? I yearned to do just that, to bring peace and plenty, so that the savages who dwelt here would know the bounty of Númenor. It was what I came to Middle-earth for, after all, to win myself a kingdom.
The ring that shone alluringly in his hand would see to my success. Surely rule in this barbarous land should have been my birthright?
I reached for the gift that I should never have needed.
A/N: In Akallabêth Tolkien writes "among those whom he ensnared with the Nine Rings three were great lords of Númenórean race." Although he never says which three of the Nazgûl were originally Númenórean, I have chosen to write as if the Witch-king was one of them.
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