10. To Trick a King
Sauron sighed. It was hard to accomplish one's goals when one was in a cell.
I'm getting through to the king, he thought. Soon I'll be able to get him to let me out. But I need to make sure Isildur is under my thumb by then. To see his king let out a dangerous criminal like myself might shock him to rebel against both of us. I need to play this carefully. Very carefully.
Isildur would make a fine chief ringbearer. He was young, pliable, and not too bright in the head. Everything Sauron was looking for. Not to mention that he had more redeeming qualities such as a skill with tactics and was very fine with a sword.
Khamul won't like him though, Sauron thought. She won't like anyone above her, no matter who they are. And she will never understand why I can't have her be the chief, just as I will never attempt to explain.
It was quite a simple explanation really. Sauron – Maia, wizard, master tactician – was afraid of the Haradrim woman. If she was at the top of his servants, then she might look on the master with a scrutinizing eye and find him wanting. She might rebel, and she might lead a rebellion. Sauron did not need that keeping him awake at night. But with her in second place, she would still basically run everything, but direct her fury and bitter resentment towards the man in charge. Yes, it would do well to have a man be the chief ringbearer. He had a feeling that Khamul would be more likely to challenge or outright kill a female commander than a male one. Of course, that didn't mean she wouldn't try something. He would have to watch out for her.
Why can nothing be simple? Sauron wondered as the door to the dungeon creaked open and down walked Isildur, son of Elendil, chief of the Valar-worshipers in all Arda.
"The king is on his way to speak with you," the young man said, looking coldly at Sauron. He couldn't hide the curiosity in those cold eyes though. Yes, Sauron thought, I have done well indeed.
"And what does he wish to speak about?" Sauron asked.
"I…I do not know," Isildur said. "Your treachery, I suppose," he said harshly, hoping to make up for his previous stumble.
"My treachery?" Sauron asked, raising an eyebrow. "What treason have I committed? I am no citizen of Numenor. I am merely a captive of war."
"You are a traitor to Arda itself!" Isildur exclaimed. "Or so my father says," he muttered.
"And do you believe your father?"
"He is a wise man. His father, Amandil, is wise, too."
"A wise man from a long line of wise men," Sauron said. "And are you, Isildur, wise as well?"
The young man stumbled back, surprised. "I…I am still young," he said. He shook his head. "I should not be talking to you," he muttered.
"The king is taking his time," Sauron said. "Talk. I grow lonely here in these dark dungeons."
"The king says you will bewitch any guard you speak to," Isildur said. "My father agrees with him. He tells me not to speak with you."
"And yet you are," Sauron pointed out.
"I should not. You…you…why did you do it?" Isildur asked at last.
"Do what?" Yes, I've got him right where I want him, Sauron thought.
"Why did you surrender?" Isildur asked. "You have many orcs, as well as other creatures. And behind the Morannon you could survive for many months. We could never break through the Black Gate. So why did you surrender?"
"I felt repentance for my deeds," Sauron said. "When I saw what I had done to the elves of Eregion, I felt horror and disgust. I promised that I would never do such a thing again. When I heard of the king's great fleet, I gave myself up to justice."
Isildur nodded slowly. He's completely under my spell if he believed that, Sauron thought. Yes, I think it's time to get out of this cell now.
The dungeon door opened again and Ar-Pharazon himself walked in. "Leave, guard," he told Isildur and walked right up to the bars of Sauron's cell.
"Welcome, sire," Sauron said as the door shut behind Isildur.
Pharazon began pacing back and forth. Something is troubling him, Sauron thought. Let's see if I can convince him I can fix it.
"You seem distraught, sire," Sauron said. "What ails you?"
"I am growing old," Pharazon whispered. "Oh, I have lived lives of normal men, but so have my forefathers. I find no great sign of it, but sometimes I am short of breath. I cannot run so fast nor as long as I used to. My face is becoming lined."
"Ah, king, you are still young," Sauron said. "But you are of mortal men. You will die one day, regrettably."
Ar-Pharazon whirled around with the speed of a snake to face Sauron. "I will not die," he hissed. "I cannot! I am Ar-Pharazon the Golden! I am the greatest king Numenor ever had! I will become immortal!"
You poor, foolish mortal, Sauron thought while appearing sympathetic to the king. You are falling into my hands. Falling, falling, falling.
"My lord, there is little I can do," Sauron said.
Pharazon snarled a curse and looked away.
"…From in here," Sauron finished.
"What?" Pharazon asked, looking back.
"In a cell I cannot use all my powers to aid you, great king."
"I will free you," Pharazon said. For a moment his sense took hold and he stared with suspicion at Sauron. "But first swear to me that you will do this. That you will not flee."
"Numenor is a blessed land of the Valar," Sauron said. "My power is weakened here. And besides, why would I want to flee? You would only capture me again."
Pharazon nodded slowly. "Wait, you say your power is weakened?"
"By the Valar, yes."
"The Valar," Pharazon said, grinding his teeth. "They give the gift of immortality to the elves, worthless creatures that they are. And they give us – oh, they give us! – the 'gift' of death. Death. A gift. What a silly notion."
"Indeed, my king," Sauron said. He frowned, appearing to be deep in concentration. "My king, if the worship and reverence of the Valar were to decrease in Numenor, my power would increase. I would be better able to aid you, my king."
"I will have all statues and altars to the Valar torn down at once," Pharazon said.
"There is a temple, is there not, to Varda and Iluvatar?" Sauron asked.
"I will have it razed."
"Oh, you need not raze it, my king," Sauron said. "Instead, take out the things of the Valar. Allow me use of it."
"What will you do?" Pharazon asked, his suspicions still not completely alleviated.
"My own lord, Melkor, has not had worshippers for a long, long time," Sauron said. "He is not one of the Valar, but a far mightier being."
Pharazon listened, completely caught in Sauron's web. "I have heard Melkor is a vile being," he said.
"Work of the Valar and elves, my king. I swear he will bring you to your youth again."
"No! I do not care to go through this agonizing process of aging again! I want immortality!"
"And you shall have it, my king," Sauron said. "Just let me out, and I will bring you to the Undying Lands themselves."
"Guards!" Pharazon called. Isildur and two of his comrades hurried into the dungeon. "Release him."
The guards were stunned. Isildur stopped in his tracks and the other two ran into him.
"Release him, sire?" Isildur asked.
"Yes," Pharazon said. "He is innocent of wrong-doing."
"Work of the Valar," Pharazon said. "Let him out!"
"Yes, my king," one of the guards said, hurrying over to the cell and releasing Sauron.
"Thank you, sire," Sauron said, bowing low. "I will get to work at once."
"Yes, bring me what is rightfully mine and every true Numenorean's," Pharazon said.
"You will all be immortal soon, my king," Sauron said.
The guards all began talking to each other at once. Isildur sounded excited at the prospect of immortality. Yes, Sauron thought as he strode up the steps of the dungeon, you will be the only one who gets it though, I fear. Pharazon shall perish in the flames that will consume Numenor.
There was a clatter as a maid dropped a bucket and mop.
"You needn't bother with the disguise, Vorea," Sauron said. "Get yourself into armor and attend me in the chapel formerly of the Valar. Do you know where that is?"
"Yes, my lord."
"Good. We have work to do."
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.