They rode for many weeks, stopping at villages and searching for one who would be a suitable ringbearer. There was no success. The people of the White Mountains were, as Sauron put it, 'petty and small-minded', and as Khamul called them, 'fools'. Still, it was during these weeks that Khamul learned much about Middle-Earth and its many peoples. She found the people of Rhun, with their ships particularly fascinating.
"We should travel there," she said. "They know almost nothing about Middle-Earth or Numenor. They're ignorant savages. You might find a minion there."
"I'm not looking for minions," Sauron said. "I am looking for a loyal ally. Still, you are right, Rhun is a land visited by no one. To go further to the east at this time may be foolish and unproductive, but by the sea we may find one."
And so they came to the great sea of Rhun, and Khamul looked at ships for the first time.
"So much water," she commented as they rode through a small village. The villagers, unused to having visitors, looked up and chattered amongst each other. A few even reached out and tried to touch Khamul.
"They're unused to the sight of Haradrim," Sauron said.
Khamul snorted. "So I see," she snarled.
"There would appear to be a great deal more people lining the streets than usually," Sauron said, looking around. "I suspect there is a festivity of some sort taking place."
He glanced around until he saw an elderly woman, to whom he rode up and tapped on the shoulder.
"Madam, we are travelers in these lands," he said. "Is this a market day, perhaps? There seems to be a great deal of commotion."
"It's a wedding," the old woman said, grinning toothlessly. "Oh, I do love a wedding. The groom gave the bride's father a very nice boat."
"Oh, you do a barter system around here," Sauron mused.
"Nothing. Come, Khamul, I think we may have found something."
"A wedding?" Khamul muttered, but nudged her horse forward.
At the shore stood a priest dressed all in blue, a pleased young man, and a rather unhappy young woman. She had olive colored skin, with dark hair, and even darker eyes. She was reasonably pretty, but she kept glancing around, looking for something.
"She looks rather unhappy for a bride," Sauron commented as he walked up to a spectator.
"Well, her sister was supposed to marry him," the man said. "But she died of food poisoning. And her own fiancé drowned in the sea during a storm. It's fortunate that the groom made it out alive. He was in it as well."
"Was he indeed?" Sauron said. "Well, who says the evil can't do good? Khamul, stop that wedding, if you please."
"With pleasure," she said, pushing her way through the crowds.
"And by the Valar who look down from above…" the priest intoned when suddenly he found three feet of curved steel at his throat. "Oh."
"Shut up," Khamul said. "And don't anybody move!"
"Oh my," the bride said.
"What is the meaning of this?" the groom demanded, pushing his bride out of the way and stomping over to where Khamul stood. "Who the Hell do you think you are?"
"I think the more appropriate question may be, 'who do you think you're kidding'?" Sauron said, walking over. "Excellent job, Khamul," he whispered.
"What are you talking about?" the groom hissed.
"This bride's former fiancé simply drowned?" Sauron asked. "I find that hard to believe. The waves of the Sea of Rhun are not so strong, even during the most violent of storms. Drowned? I rather think you drowned him."
There was a gasp of shock from the gathered crowd. The groom turned a brilliant red color.
"You have no proof," he hissed.
"I am a Maia," Sauron said. "I don't need proof."
"Arrest this liar!" the groom thundered. "And you should just kill that creature," he snarled, glaring at Khamul. "Who does that woman think she is anyway? It's not a like a woman could be any good with a sword."
There was a 'whoosh' noise and suddenly the groom's head slid off his neck and into the sand on the ground. His body followed a few moments later.
"Just like I said," Khamul said. "First person to doubt me."
"You certainly killed him," Sauron said. He glanced up and saw the crowd dispersing. "Interesting. I would have thought they would be staying around to see more blood and gore."
"You are a foreigner, yes?" the priest asked, grinning and trying to look happy that there was a sword at his throat.
"Yes," Sauron said. "Is there some sort of custom after one kills another?"
"Well, you get the bride, but that's about it," the priest. "Would you like a ceremony…? Or perhaps not," he mumbled as Khamul glared at him. "I will leave now." The priest scurried off along with the rest of the crowd.
"Interesting custom," Sauron commented.
The bride slapped him across the face.
"How dare you!" Khamul yelled, lunging towards the bride, but she slipped on a seaweed covered rock and fell into the water.
"I take it you aren't happy with marriage?" Sauron said.
"Not in the least!" the bride hissed. "I loved my fiancé, but he is dead now. Perhaps dead – as I suspected – by that slain man there. I loved him, and he is gone! I shall never marry!"
"Have you heard of Numenor?" Sauron asked.
"What?" the bride asked. "What is that?"
"It's a land of humans blessed by the Valar," Sauron said. "I take it you haven't heard of them."
"No. Why do they matter?"
"They don't. At least, not unless you agree."
"Agree to what?"
"Tell me….what is your name?"
"Metima," the bride said. "And what do you want?"
"Do you want power, Metima? Do you want wealth? Do you want people to obey your every command? Do you want to lead armies? Do you want to fight battles?"
Metima seemed startled by this. She looked at her wedding dress, which was covered with sand and wet with water. It looked to Khamul that it had been passed down through generations. The cloth was thin and stained in places. The Haradrim could see places were the gown had been stitched back together. No, the people of Rhun are not by any means rich, she thought. Not here at least.
"Yes," Metima said, looking up. "I would like power. I would like to control people. I really would."
"Good," Sauron said. He took out a ring identical to Khamul's, save that the gem in the center was an opal.
"This is a precious ring," Metima said as he handed it to her. "But I don't understand how this will give me what I seek."
"It makes you immortal and damn near invulnerable," Khamul said. she held up her arm where she had landed on a sharp rock. The cloth sleeve was cut, but the skin beneath was undamaged.
"Unbelievable," Metima whispered. "And this is for me?"
"Take it with my blessing," Sauron said.
Metima slipped it onto her finger, and like with Khamul, it fit perfectly. "Do I accompany you now?" she asked.
"Yes," Sauron said. "Take whatever you need from the village, and then find yourself a horse. We will wait for you outside the village."
"What is she to become?" Khamul asked as they watched Metima hurry off towards the wooden shacks called houses.
"Not as great as you," Sauron said. "But not as less as some."
"Somewhere in between then," Khamul said. "There will be nine of us, and I am the second. What number will she be?"
"Ah, you want specifics." Sauron considered this. "Perhaps fifth, maybe fourth, doubtfully sixth."
Khamul nodded. "It depends on who else we find," she said.
Metima joined them only ten minutes after they reached the boundaries of the village. She was dressed like some of the men Khamul had seen in the village; leather pants and vest, with a thick cloth shirt. She had a bow and a quiver full of arrows slung across her back, as well as a knife stuck in her belt.
"I'm ready," she said.
"We are looking for seven others such as you," Sauron said to her. "Can you think of a place where we may find others who crave power?" He smiled at this, nearly laughing. "Those who crave power and have the means to take it, with some help," he amended.
"Harrowdale," Metima said.
"What?" Sauron asked, looking puzzled.
A land that he doesn't know? Khamul thought. It must be an obscure place indeed.
"Harrowdale. It is a valley at the south of the plains to the west, between Fangorn Forest and the sea," Metima said, gesturing to the west. "A visitor from there came once. He seemed wise and knowledgeable."
"Ah, near the Anduin then," Sauron said, nodding.
"Some miles from it, I believe," Metima said. "But close enough, yes."
"Harrowdale," Sauron said. He nodded after a moment's pause. "That is a name I have never heard before, but there is something in it that intrigues me."
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.