1. Gentlemen's Agreement
"Bring me the Nazgul."
A low murmur filled the marble hall. Royal guards, their winged helmets showing high above the mass of faces, made their way to the wide hallway. Into the room a cadre of heavily-armed guards led the way for the prisoner. Uneasy, the crowd parted, instinctively backing itself against the cold walls of the throne room.
Silent, erect, the prisoner entered. Barred chains held his hands away from his side; shackles kept his stride short and slow. Except for a plain cloth hood, bound with tough leather, and a simple loincloth, he was naked–and unseen.
King Earnur watched as the chains, seemingly suspended in med air, drew closer. Proud and strong, the King of Gondor had done what no one else had ever done: Capture the King of the Nazgul, and force him to stand in bondage, humiliated and helpless.
Earnur regarded his prize closely. On the advice of his steward Mardil he ordered the Nazgul kept gagged, lest he cast a spell and escape. If it meant the prisoner neither ate nor drank, so be it. For a creature of such unimaginable evil, this was no more than he deserved. A slow death for him if death were even possible, punctuated by days of chastisement and torment. The destroyer of the last Northern kingdom deserved no less.
Seizing the Nazgul had been easier than expected. First they had slain his horse, forcing him to face the entirety of their forces on foot. Several of the men fell to the deadly sword before Earnur was finally able to bring him down, forcing him to surrender. To the Gondorians' surprise the other Nazgul had not come to his aid. Perhaps they were only too happy to see him taken away.
There were many things Earnur planned for his captive, many torments and tortures he wished to employ. Most would be inflicted in private, where his own masculinity could not be called into question. In public he would have to settle for something gratifying if not perfectly pleasurable.
Hefting the ivory grip as though testing to see if it were up to the task, he drew back, and struck.
The sound jolted him awake.
Where was he? Earnur sat up, still stupid from sleep. A room, a curtained bed, a fire, books, windows, carpets. All fine, yet unfamiliar. He shook his head, forcing his mind to clear. Leaded windows, elegant tables, gold fixtures glowing in the morning light. One glance at the window, and he knew.
Annoyed, he flung aside the covers. By the window was a small wash basin, where he roughly slapped water onto his face. He had been here, what, two weeks? Two weeks in this infernal room, two weeks of food and drink but no freedom to wander the place. And where was their king, anyway? This was not a large enough place to keep even a knight busy, let alone a king.
He spun towards the door. A small, meek man, clothed in plain gray robes, set a tray of food by the bed. "I have brought your meat, cheese, fruit and bread. This jug is cider."
"I know that! Where's your king?"
"I do not know, sir. I am merely a servant assigned to help you."
"Help me by finding him."
"I cannot do that, sir."
Earnur smashed the tray to the ground. "Why in Hell not? I will not be kept a prisoner!"
Sighing, the servant gathered what could be salvaged of the food and replaced the tray. "I will ask again, sir." Spoiled food in hand, he retreated from the room. Earnur caught the unmistakable clunk of a lock.
SO the king was still absent, was he? How long was he to be imprisoned here? Not much longer. If hid calculations were correct, by now Minas Tirith knew of his predicament and was taking steps to retrieve him. A King of Gondor held ransom? Never! And once freed, he would return and level this godforsaken place.
It had all been easy, riding here with his men. Thy had come up the Morgul vale, and ridden through the open gates. The City looked much as it always had, except that there were far more orcs and other things lurking about. He had understood the siege to be horrific, yet little evidence of it remained. Only a few building still bore the scars of the Nazguls' victory.
Up, up they rode, past palaces and plazas, shops and streets, curious onlookers and lounging orcs. Once they were at the top, before the grand palace, a guard had them dismount and follow into a courtyard. Earnur was lead up a stairway. Only at the top did he realize his men had been taken somewhere else. His guard took him to this room, closed the door, and left. Sometime during the night, his armor and weapons disappeared.
Two weeks ago.
That evening Earnur had a visitor.
When the door opened for what he assumed would be supper, with the servant came one of the Nazgul.
Earnur knew better than to show fear. What were they, really, but men? And this one was not even his equal in size or strength. Perhaps the King had returned, and this one would bring him to the audience.
"Good evening, Earnur."No titles, only familiarity. Already Earnur hated this man.
"Where is your King?"
"He has been on many missions."
"Any word from Minas Tirith?"
"None." The Nazgul seated himself. "I am Gothmog, captain of the city. I trust you have been comfortable."
"Where are my men?"
"They, too, are comfortable. As are your horses. No harm has befallen any of your company."
"I will see your King!"
"When he is ready." Gothmog stood. "Again, good evening."
Earnur hurled himself at the still-open door. "You will take me to see your King now!"
Gothmog forced him back into the room. "At his convenience."
The door locked.
"His Majesty will see you." Gothmog waited by the open door.
"Where has he been?"
Three days, three long days since meeting Gothmog, and only now the King had found time to see him? Earnur followed, fuming. No one, no one kept the King of Gondor waiting! He had never feared their Witch-King, and now he would be able to prove it.
They followed a series of corridors and hallways, leading through the palace. It was not the way he had gone originally, of that he was certain. Here and there Earnur caught sight of a piece of Numenorean artistry, gracing a wall or niche. That such beauty had fallen into the hands of these–these–things! He would take his vengeance on their King, and recover this for Gondor.
They halted outside a pair of wooden doors. The moon of Minas Ithil had been recarved to show the skull of Minas Morgul. Earnur forced himself to stay calm while the doors were pushed open.
The man upon the throne waited, his black robes trimmed with gold and jewels, tall steel crown edged in gold. Like Earnur's own throne this one was high-backed, elaborately carved and edged with gold. This one, he saw, had a more Numenorean sensibility to its design, as though it had been taken from Armenelos itself.
"Earnur," began the King, "I see you have finally taken it upon yourself to answer me."
"Answer you? Where have you been? I've been waiting for you!"
"As a King, Earnur, you of all people should know that sometimes one has responsibilities which cannot be ignored. Much as I would have enjoyed meeting with you earlier, there were more pressing concerns which needed my attention."
The Witch-King studied him, silent and unseen. "The affairs of my kingdom are none of yours. Perhaps if you had taken a more personal interest in those of Gondor, we would not be having this discussion."
"What? You challenged me to come here!"
"Yes. And I admit I am delighted that you have come."
"Then meet me to finish this!"
"Earnur, there is a time and a place for everything. Neither you nor I are properly equipped, and I doubt such a fight would be considered fair. We will meet another time."
"No!" Earnur charged the throne.
Gothmog seized him before he could get far.
"Take him away," said the King.
Nearly a week later, Gothmog came to the room. "His Majesty wishes you to come."
"It appears men without number are marching through the vale."
"Gondor!" At last! Mardil must have gathered the army, consulted the generals. They were here, now, to free him, to bring him back to Minas Tirith. He bounded past Gothmog into the hall.
"To the left," said Gothmog. "We must climb many steps."
Earnur half-ran down the halls, turning when told. Eventually they stopped at a steeply-curved stone stairway.
"Up," said Gothmog. "His Majesty awaits."
He took the stairs two and three at a time. His men had come, his army was here, he would soon be free!
At the top he burst out onto a wide landing. Stone crenelations ran around the perimeter. Above them the great, revolving tower slowly turned, its dull light vanishing in the sunlight. Near one of the taller crenelation stood the Witch-king, his black cloak swirling behind him in the breeze. With him waited the rest of the Nazgul. All come, no doubt, to see the might of Gondor in full display.
"You see? You see?" He raced forward, heedless. "My men are here! They have come!"
"What are you saying, Earnur?" asked the King.
Earnur ran into one of the crenelations, thudding into it hard enough that he had to catch his breath. Below, in the steep vale, nothing stirred save a handful of birds.
"Where–where are they? Where are my men? Where is Gondor?"
The King turned to him. "The men of Gondor have come for you, Earnur. Do you not see? They are without number."
"There–there is no one there!"
"Correct, Earnur. There are none. None is without number, is it not?"
For a moment Earnur stood, trying to grasp what had just happened. Tricked--fooled–he had been tricked, and he would not be humiliated like this. Choking out a cry of rage, he charged the Witch-king.
Slamming into the Nazgul, the impetus of the blow drove them both towards the edge. The Nazgul seized him by the shoulders, forcing him back. Before Earnur could respond, he was spun around until he hung over the edge of the landing.
"You fool," hissed the King, "you see how far away the ground lies? With one push you will be amongst the flowers."
Earnur shoved back, forcing the Nazgul away from the drop. "You tricked me. I'll kill you!"
They spun onto the landing, backing away from each other. The Nazgul swept back his cloak, revealing the pommel of his sword. "You are unarmed."
"I'll kill you!"
"Herumor," said the King, "give him your sword. I will not let it be said that I murdered this man."
Earnur grasped the hilt of the proffered weapon. A good, stout two-hander, just what he needed to face the Witch-King. He gave it a quick practice swing. Yes, a very good sword. The Nazgul kept superb weapons for themselves. He had no armor; neither did his enemy. Earnur, for all his sheer size and strength, knew that the Witch-king was taller and more powerfully built. To win this he would have to strike quickly.
Warily they circled each other, Earnur looking for the slightest opening. Once or twice he tried feinting with the blade, only to have the King pull away. It would not be possible to easily bluff his way to victory.
One quick strike, parried easily. The force in the parry drove Earnur backwards. He managed to catch himself and recover. No one, no man he had ever fought, had so easily shoved him aside. Earnur had practiced and trained for years, waiting for this chance to slay the Nazgul; he saw now how difficult that would be.
Strike, parry. Strike, parry, circle. Sweat began to drop into his eyes. This was not the way he wanted to do this, unarmored, with a strange sword. He dreamed of this for years, and now it was slipping away.
Another strike, parry. Earnur saw his chance. Charging, he drove the blade deep into the Nazgul's left thigh.
He might as well have stuck a block of granite.
The Nazgul blade shattered, shards of steel flying across the stone. Earnur's arms broke with it, pulverized bones piercing his flesh. Howling in agony he dropped to his knees, blood pooling around him.
A dark mass loomed over him. Earnur managed to look up at the Witch-king, one hand on his torn and bloodied clothes. Raising his great sword over his head, he brought it down, severing Earnur's left leg above the knee. Contracting with pain, Earnur had enough time to see the Nazgul's boot just before he was kicked in the face.
"You are lucky to be alive."
Earnur turned to the voice. His right eye no longer functioned. It took several attempts to focus on his visitor. In the glow from the fire he recognized the massive frame of the Witch-king. "You've come to finish me."
"No, not at all. You are too valuable to me alive."
Earnur looked down. Both arms were gone, severed below the shoulder. Never again would he wield a sword, handle reins, write his name.
"They were far too injured to save," said the King.
"Why didn't you just kill me?"
The King drew a long breath. "You and your forces waited until I had pacified Arnor before attacking. Why was that?"
"What are you talking about?"
"You waited until Arvedui was dead and his lands in my hands. You could have come for me at any time, yet you chose to wait until I had done your dirty work for you."
"You destroyed the kingdoms! You destroyed Fornost!"
"Fornost was livable under my rule. It was not I that ordered it utterly destroyed."
"You wanted them all dead!"
"No, fool! I wanted the kingdoms alive. I wanted to reunite the men of Numenor before all our blood was squandered and destroyed. For centuries I worked to that end, only to have it all demolished by you. And now I will have my vengeance."
"The people of Gondor will destroy you. They will come and kill you."
"I think not, Earnur." From his robes he produced a folded parchment, seals swinging on white ribbon.
"That's from the Steward! It is for me!"
The King slowly, methodically unfolded the message, the parchment crinkling softly. "Your Majesty: You are correct that King Earnur has not produced an heir and is not interested in doing so. You are also correct that Gondor cannot afford another civil war. From this point onwards, the removal of the King from the throne will be part of the secret pact to maintain a long and lasting peace between our realms. Every year we will provide tribute to pay for the upkeep of the former king. This will be continued until an actual successor is found. If none is ever found, this pact will be kept until the end of time. MARDIL."
"That's not true! He would never do that!"
"Is this not his hand and seal?"
"Yes–but–but he would never do this to me!"
"Gondor does not want you, Earnur You failed as King to do the most important task of all: To secure the succession. I have met many men of your kind, yet when the duty to provide an heir arose they did so. You could not. And now it has cost you your kingdom."
He stood, giving a signal to the Nazgul by the door. A small, simply dressed male Orc entered.
"Earnur, here is Grak. He will be your arms and will do any task you require. He is literate, so if needs be he can write for you as well."
The Orc smiled nervously, sidling over to the bed.
"Finally, Earnur, I wish to relieve you of the burden of your virginity. I have selected some ladies who will be overjoyed to keep you satisfied."
Earnur stared at the door. What was coming for him now, in this state? And women–weak, miserable creatures all, unable to appreciate or enjoy the real worth of men. He had always avoided them, disgusted by the ghastly fluids expelled by their wombs and the whorish way they approached all things.
"Enter, ladies. Be gentle with him–he has never known women."
Tall, short, slim, voluptuous–into the room swarmed a gaggled of scantily clad, perfumed she-Orcs. Shrieking and giggling, they descended on him like wolves on lambs. "Oi, look at this!" howled one, laughing as she pulled back the blankets.
"Who knows," said the King as he stood in the door, "perhaps one day I shall place one of your descendants on the throne of Gondor."
Above the cries of the delighted Orcs Earnur heard the door lock.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.