13. The Heir of Valandil
It was a bright, clear, cold morning when Khamul rode into Armenelos. To her great surprise, the guards swung the gates of the palace wide when she approached, and even bowed respectfully.
"What madness is this?" Khamul muttered, urging her horse faster through the gate. Her hand clenched her sword, wondering if a trap was about to be sprung.
"Ah, my lieutenant returns," Sauron said, walking forward from the gardens.
"What is going on here?" Khamul asked, dismounting and hurrying over to the Maia. "Has the world gone mad?"
"No," Sauron said, "just Numenor."
"They let you out? Why? Is the king an imbecile?"
"As I said, the king has fallen. He is little more than my puppet now," Sauron said.
"And this Isildur?" Khamul asked suspiciously.
"He will be mine soon," Sauron said with a smile. "And then we need only one more ringbearer."
"And then we can return to Middle-Earth, away from this wretched land," Khamul snarled.
"You do not really like traveling, do you?" Sauron commented. "Never mind. But it is necessary to stay in Numenor until it falls."
"It's crumbling about the edges already."
"Yes, and I have increased the crumblings. But a strong leader could pull it back together. That must not happen. Understand?"
"Perfectly," Khamul said. It means I spend more time here, either being shunned and mocked, or being treated with suspicious respect. "Why did the guards bow to me?" she asked.
"I told them you would be arriving one of these days and that you were to be treated with the utmost respect," Sauron said.
"I see," Khamul said.
"You don't seem pleased."
"That's because I'm not. I don't trust these people. They are too fickle, too ever-changing. I don't like that."
"Then you will like what I have to say next even less," Sauron said. "Pharazon and his court have abandoned the Valar and are now worshipping my former lord."
"The same. News of such things travels fast, and now from the depths of his halls the greatest foe either of us have is traveling with all speed towards Armenelos."
"Who?" Khamul asked.
"His name is Elendil, son of Amandil, heir of Valandil, son of Silmarien, descendent of Elros, son of Earendil, son of Tuor and Idril Celebrindil, and also son of Elwing, daughter of Dior, son of Beren and Luthien. I think I hardly need explain the significance of this to you."
"Well, this Elendil fellow certainly has a lineage to live up to," Khamul said. "But I fail to see how he is our greatest enemy. Surely that would be the Valar, or someone with close connections to Pharazon's court?"
"Elendil has close connections to the court, and to Pharazon himself," Sauron said. "He is the heir of the Lord of Andunie, ruler of that land. His father is on his last legs and will soon die, then Elendil will inherit the title."
"Is he the man I saw in Umbar?" Khamul asked, cursing the day she let the man live.
"No," Sauron said, shaking his head. "There are many minor lords of that land, but Amandil rules over them all. And Elendil is proving to be a stronger man even than his father."
"Yet his son is Isildur, who is weak."
"Yes, strange how it works," Sauron said. "Also – curse his soul – Elendil has connections with Gil-Galad in Lindon. Do you realize what this means? Metima tells me that the settlers are re-grouping and rebuilding from our destruction. There are enough of them throughout Middle-Earth that if Elendil were to come to that land, he could raise an army. An army that would soon be joined by Gil-Galad and his elves. That would spell disaster. Orcs and ogres alike are gathering under my banner, but that is not nearly enough. Goblins harry the elves, but they do no real damage. Alone, Gil-Galad will do nothing until it is too late. But with Elendil's human impatience, the two could form a strong force quickly, and crush Mordor."
"This is indeed grave," Khamul said. "Shall I kill him?"
"No," Sauron said. "I wish him dead, but it is not the right time. Pharazon and his court are under my control, and Armenelos is falling, but the death of such a prominent man would weaken or even shatter it. I am close now to succeeding, but I want nothing to mess it up. First I need to drag Elendil down, make him a public enemy. Then you can kill him."
"I understand," Khamul said. "Yet he is coming here, is already on his way. What do we do when he arrives?"
"You are going to speak with him," Sauron said. "He is a rather enlightened man, so you'll hear no snide remarks from him. Keep him distracted. Lie. I doubt it can be done, but try to win him to our side."
"You are far better at words than I," Khamul said. "Why can't you do this?"
"Because he knows who I am," Sauron said. "He knows what I will do to Numenor if given the chance. Every word that comes out of my mouth he will disregard. But with you, we have a chance."
"I understand," Khamul said.
In two days the gates of the palace swung wide to admit another horseman. But this was a tall, very tall, human with brown hair and a beard, and gray eyes.
"Welcome to Armenelos," Khamul said, walking out of the shadows of the garden. "You are Elendil, son of Amandil, are you not?"
"I am," the man said. "Forgive me, lady, but I do not recall seeing a proud Haradrim warrior woman on my last visit to this city. What brings you here?"
"I am Khamul of Haradwaith," Khamul said. "I came here to see the sights, and ended up staying for the good company of the court, who have graciously taken me in."
"I am surprised by that," Elendil said. "You see, I have been in this court before, and I found them most unaccommodating to the different races of our world."
Khamul laughed. I don't like this diplomacy stuff, she thought. What I want to do is just stick a dagger in his gut and be done with it. Still, he's a damn more respectful man than any of the others out there. "You have been away from court too long, Lord Elendil," she said. "Things are different around here."
"So I have heard," Elendil said grimly. "Please, Lady Khamul, call me Elendil. My father has not yet passed away, and I am merely a minor lord of the Andunie. But, please, tell me if it is true. Has the king released Sauron?"
"Yes, that is true."
"I must honor the king's decision, but I disagree strongly with it," Elendil said. "Sauron is a known deceiver and liar throughout the ages. He was Morgoth's right-hand man in the First Age. He betrayed the Valar to join with the Dark Lord. He cannot be trusted."
"I did not make the decision to free him," Khamul said.
"Indeed not. Forgive me, my lady. I must speak with the king on this manner immediately. If you will excuse me." Elendil bowed and hurried towards the palace proper, his long strides covering the ground quickly.
Interesting man, Khamul thought. I doubt he will change the king's mind though.
A few hours later, after prowling through the gardens, Khamul found Elendil sitting on a marble bench before Nimloth, lost in contemplation.
"The meeting did not go well then?" Khamul guessed.
"No, Lady Khamul, it did not," Elendil said gravely. "The king…" He glanced up at Khamul with suspicion in his eyes. "Forgive me, my lady, but I must know. Do you support the king?"
"I am a loyal citizen of Numenor," Khamul lied.
"But the king's policies, do you support them?"
Khamul considered this. How to answer? "No, I fear that of late they seem increasingly strange," she said.
"He has dedicated a temple to Morgoth!" Elendil exclaimed. "Iluvatar alone knows the havoc that could wreak. Why, it may even awaken the Dark Vala in the Void! It would bring doom upon Numenor! How could the king be so foolish?"
"Be careful, Lord Elendil," Khamul said. "Those are treasonous words."
"I care not," Elendil snarled. "The king has gone too far. He married his own cousin by force, and still the Lords of the Andunie stood behind him, albeit grudgingly. He increased royal spending, still we supported him. He allowed Umbar and New Haven to be destroyed through neglect of the forces stationed there, and yet still we were there, giving him money, not daring to rebel. But this! This is the final straw! Sauron was to be executed upon Numenorean soil! He was to be dead by now! Or as dead as a Maia can be. But instead he roams free among the halls, raising a temple to Morgoth, and corrupting the court with his lies!"
"And what will you do, Lord Elendil?" Khamul asked.
"I have no choice," Elendil said. "The king has clearly gone mad, or lost his will to Sauron. The Lords of the Andunie will rebel."
"Yes, it is bold action, but it is necessary. This evil must be rooted out once and for all," Elendil said. "My Lady Khamul, this land will soon grow dangerous. Would you accompany me to Andunie?"
"I will consider it, Lord Elendil," Khamul said. Good opportunity, or not, she thought. It seems good, but dangerous.
"I leave on the morrow," Elendil said. "Meet me by the palace gate if you will come."
"My thanks, Lord Elendil," Khamul said, hurrying away. She could hardly contain her excitement as she slipped through the corridors and hallways of the palace, hoping to conceal where she was headed.
"Any news?" Sauron asked as she burst into the temple.
"A great deal," Khamul said with a grin. "Elendil is going to rebel against Pharazon. He is returning to Andunie tomorrow and planning to lead his people against the king."
"Is he indeed?" Sauron asked with a smile, raising an eyebrow.
"And he has offered to allow me to accompany him there."
Sauron grinned. "An excellent opportunity for spying, yes?"
"I thought so," Khamul said, grinning.
"Well," Sauron said with a cunning look, "it seems that Elendil has just been declared a traitor to the crown. After all, rebellion is an act of treachery. And as a traitor, he will be executed without delay. I shall go inform the guards to arrest him immediately."
The greatest enemy, defeated, Khamul thought. She watched out of the temple window as a dozen guards surrounded Elendil where he sat, contemplating his course of action in front of Nimloth. They arrested him and then marched him off to the dungeons.
"He will be leaving tomorrow," Sauron said as he returned to the temple. "Leaving this world, that is."
"And so falls our greatest enemy," Khamul said.
Sauron nodded, smiling smugly. "And even sweeter is that Isildur has turned against his father. He has declared his allegiance for the king and denounced Elendil."
"He will be the chief of the ringbearers then?" Khamul asked.
"Yes, indeed," Sauron said.
"I am pleased that such a skilled man will lead us," Khamul said with a beaming smile.
The smile was not one Sauron was accustomed to seeing on Khamul, but he paid it no heed, thinking she was genuinely pleased.
"If my lord would excuse me for the rest of the day, I would like some rest," Khamul said.
"Certainly," Sauron said. "Ceure and Vorea are enough to keep this place free from unwanted individuals."
"Excellent," Khamul said, her tone just a shade darker than usual.
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.