22. Heroes of the Hour
"Why aren't we ever invited to war meetings?" Khamul asked as she and Vorea patrolled the hallways.
"We are not a king, nor a counselor, nor a lord, nor a general, nor an admiral," Vorea said.
"That's a lot of things we aren't," Khamul said. "And Sauron isn't any of those anyway."
"He is the new counselor to the king. It was a post held by Amandil, but it was vacated some time ago."
"Whatever happened to that old man?" Khamul asked. "I heard Elendil being called the Lord of the Andunie. He finally die?"
"He sailed into the West," Vorea said. "It is rumored that he went seeking the aid of the Valar."
Khamul snorted. "Good luck there."
"Quite." Vorea frowned. "That man looks familiar," she said.
"Does he?" Khamul asked, studying a man who was leaving the queen's chambers. "By the Valar!" she hissed. "It's Morion!"
"But how?" Vorea gasped. "He was locked up!"
"Look! There's Ceure," Khamul said, nodding towards the fifth ringbearer who was walking down the hall towards them. "Listen, we've got him trapped. You throw your spear at him, I'll chop his head off, and Ceure'll beat him to death with whatever's on hand."
"I think but one of those would kill him," Vorea said.
"Better to be safe than sorry," Khamul said. "Ready?"
"I am always ready."
"Then let's GO!"
Taking a short run through the hallway, Vorea let fly her metal spear. It went speeding faster than Khamul's eyes could follow. There was a sickening noise as it impaled Morion, smashing through ribs and organs alike.
"Got him!" Khamul hissed in triumph. "But just to make sure…Ceure! Kill him!"
"I think he's dead already!" Ceure shouted back. "Of all the times not to have my sword," she muttered, but picked up a metal vase and charged forward.
"And finally, the coup de grace," Khamul muttered, drawing her sword and running at the falling man.
Morion was attempting to pull the spear out of his chest, and doing a reasonably good job of it for a man with seconds to live.
"Take that!" Ceure exclaimed as she smashed him in the head with the vase.
"You can't kill me," Morion gasped, laughing macbarely as blood trickled out of his mouth.
"I don't see a ring on your finger!" Khamul snarled, driving her sword through his heart. "How in all Arda did you escape?" she demanded. "It was Ancalime, wasn't it?"
"You should look for treachery far closer," Morion gasped. He straightened and pulled out Vorea's spear. "This is yours, is it not?" he asked, hurling it back to her.
"Ah, he has a fine throw, but I think his aim needs a little work!" Vorea exclaimed as she leapt to the side, avoiding the spear, which sunk a foot into the wall.
"How are you not dead?" Khamul snarled. "Forget it," she growled. "Decapitation works when all else fails."
"Ah, I suppose it does," Morion said. With a flick of his wrist, he threw Ceure into a wall. "Regrettably, I have no weapon. Although, I believe I can rip your head off with my bare hands, so we are evenly matched."
This isn't Morion, Khamul thought. I've hardly spoken to the man, but I can tell this just isn't like him. And, of course, then there's the whole not-dying when he's been impaled. Yes, something is rotten here. Very rotten indeed.
Khamul swung her sword at Morion's neck, but to her immense surprise, he caught it in one hand. The razor-sharp edge of the blade did not so much as nick his skin.
"You are outmatched, Haradrim," Morion said.
"If one more person calls me that, I will rip their throat out with my teeth," Khamul snarled. "Although, I think I'll do that to you anyway."
"Your teeth will have as much effect as your sword."
"How about this?" Khamul snarled, abandoning her sword and punching Morion in the face. "Worked last time!"
The force of the blow sent Morion stumbling back, but he shook it off and looked up. "No broken bones," he said. "Nothing. And if you look here," He tore open his shirt, "you will see there is no hole where the spear tore through me." He was right.
"How did you do that?" Khamul demanded.
"What is going on?" Sauron roared, flinging a door open and storming into the hallway. "What is this?"
"He's a devil!" Ceure screamed, pointing at Morion. "He's still alive!"
Sauron rolled his eyes. "You incompetent idiots," he snarled. "You can't even make sure a man is dead."
"Oh, I wouldn't blame them, my errant pupil," Morion said, turning his back on Khamul and the others.
"Who are you?" Sauron asked suspiciously.
"You don't recognize me? You hurt me, Sauron."
"Melkor," Sauron whispered in horror, his eyes widening in shock.
"Yes," Morion said, stepping towards Sauron. "I have returned. Bow down, student, before the master."
"My lord," Sauron said. "There is one thing you have never learned."
Morion frowned. "What?"
"Do not turn your back on those still alive."
Khamul thrust her sword behind Morion's shoulder blades while Vorea severed his spinal cord, and Ceure slit his throat with a long knife of Khamul's.
"Is he dead now?" Khamul asked.
"No," Sauron said, walking over to where Morion had fallen to the ground in an ever-expanding pool of blood.
"What do we do?"
"Nothing," Sauron said.
Morion's black, pupiless eyes rolled in his head, before the black spread away like film, leaving the gray, normal eyes behind.
"Is he dead now?" Khamul asked.
"No," Sauron said. "He is healed." The blood around the body flowed back into it and Morion groaned a little.
"Is he still Melkor?" Khamul asked, not quite believing what had occurred. The first Dark Lord, returned from the Void, and she had fought with him.
Sauron shook his head. "The Dark Vala's spirit has departed from him, momentarily. It will return eventually."
"What do we do with him? Can we kill him now?"
"No," Sauron said. "There is nothing we can do, save try to control him."
"How do we do that?"
Sauron grudgingly took out a ring of gold, set with a bloodstone. "With this," he said with a sigh. "I almost wonder if this is what He wanted."
"You're giving him the ring?" Khamul asked, incredulous.
"I have no choice," Sauron said. "This is the only way that it might be possible to control him. If Morion is bound to my service then Melkor will find it far more difficult to get inside his mind."
Khamul frowned. "I don't like this," she said.
"I did not ask you. Care for him," Sauron said as he placed the ring upon Morion's finger. "He is your lord now."
"Where are you going?" Khamul asked as she stared down at Morion with distaste.
"I am going to see to Miriel. I fear she has born the brunt of Melkor's wrath."
"Can you believe this?" Khamul snarled, glaring at Morion. "He's the chief ringbearer!"
"He may prove a wise leader," Vorea said.
"He's got a psychopathic Vala inside his head," Khamul said. "He's unstable. He will be a nightmare of a chief. We should kill him now."
"I do not know if that is possible."
"We should test it out." Khamul started to draw her sword.
"What happened?" Morion asked, opening his eyes and looking around. "Are you going to kill me?"
"Yes," Khamul said.
"He cannot be killed," Vorea said. "It is impossible."
Khamul snarled in fury and sheathed her sword. "You're the chief ringbearer now," she snapped. "Stand up and act like it."
"What do you mean?" Morion asked. "How did I get here? What happened?"
"You have Morgoth in your head," Khamul said. "He's still there, waiting for a chance to take over your mind. Fortunately, the ring's going to help control that. So get up, say you're all better, and then go drown yourself in the fish pond."
"Khamul!" Vorea snarled.
"Listen to me," Khamul hissed, dragging Morion to his feet by the collar of his torn shirt. "You are going to be a leader I can respect, do you understand? You're going to be a leader I can follow into a massacre and still believe we're winning! You got that?"
"Why don't you just lead?" Morion asked.
"Because Sauron will not allow me to!" Khamul roared, throwing Morion from her before storming away.
"So I'm the chief?" Morion muttered. He glanced up at Vorea and Ceure. "What are you?"
"Dissatisfied," Vorea said.