18. Join the Light
"It was almost a victory," Aica said.
"Not enough of one," Morion said as he paced back and forth.
"It wasn't just the Numenoreans!" Khamul grumbled. "It was the cursed elves as well! How'd they manage that?"
"An alliance," Morion said. "Argeleb sent his son, Arveleg, to Lindon to rally the elves. I think he had a feeling we were coming."
"It was only the most logical place we would attack," Vorea said. "Any fool knows the strategic value of Amon Sul."
"That still doesn't explain why he was so ready for us," Morion said.
"He wasn't that ready for us," Khamul argued. "Argeleb was killed, his army scattered, and it was only for that freak arrival of reinforcements that kept that fortress out of our hands."
"I still don't like it," Morion said. "The army was delayed by a broken bridge, our spies have told me. If that hadn't occurred, they would have been able to join Argeleb's forces and we would have been utterly crushed."
Khamul scowled and glanced at Aica. The northern woman was staring back at her. Suspicion was on both of their faces.
"We are not going to turn on each other," Morion warned.
"We aren't," Aica said with a false smile.
Khamul snorted and left the room to take a walk around outside. She was furious at the thwarting of their plans. And now this news of a possible spy! It made her blood boil.
As she walked the road peasants fled at her approach. A few gave her shaky bows, but most just kept their distances.
As it should be, Khamul thought with a smile. She relished the fear the townspeople gave off.
Then, something caught her eye. It wasn't just the flash of a familiar face, but the feel of something more than terrified peasant.
"Hey!" Khamul shouted, running after the mysterious person.
"Ah, Khamul, I was beginning to wonder when we would meet again," Gandalf said with a smile.
"You," Khamul hissed.
"Yes, it is I."
"You're the one who warned Argeleb!" Khamul accused.
"You told him we were coming! You've been spying on us!"
"My plans did not exactly work out, did they?" Gandalf said sadly. "Argeleb is dead."
"But Weathertop is still there!"
"Yes, and I intend for it to remain there for a long time to come."
"I don't think that will be happening," Khamul hissed.
"You would fight me?" Gandalf asked, frowning. "I suppose you were right then. We have met again, and we are on opposite sides."
"We always were to begin with!"
"I thought there was some good in you, Khamul. Some good in all of the ringbearers."
Khamul stopped, momentarily struck. He called us ringbearers, she thought. Not Nazgul, not ringwraiths. Ringbearers.
"It is not too late to come to the light," Gandalf said. "The Valar are merciful beings. Fight for truth and justice. I said you had a high destiny, and I do not think I am wrong."
"And that high destiny'll only come to pass if I join you?" Khamul sneered. "What do you offer? Not immortality, I'll wager! Not invulnerability! Not power! Not the strength to avenge my people!"
"Hyarmendacil is dead now," Gandalf said. "He has been dead for many years."
"I don't care!" Khamul snarled. "He and all his kind deserve to die for what they've done!"
"You will be doing the same to them as they did to your people," Gandalf said sternly. "Is that what you wish?"
Dammit! Khamul thought furiously. He's right, damn him. Do I care what happens to the people of Gondor? No. But I'm not just going to line up all the citizens and cut their heads off.
"If they die as causalities of war, then that's fine," Khamul said. "I'm not going to murder them though."
Gandalf nodded, smiling slightly as if she'd confirmed something he'd guessed.
"I will not join you," Khamul said.
"Then we shall remain on opposite sides," Gandalf said. "Kill me then, if that is what you deem is right."
"Get out!" Khamul snarled. "Leave! Get out of Angmar!"
Now it was Gandalf who looked puzzled.
"Get out!" Khamul shouted. "I won't let you leave a second time! Go on, get out! And don't you dare think this is some kind of weak womanly feeling! I'm telling you to clear off because I think you might be useful in the future!"
Gandalf smiled again and started walking quickly away. "Remember, Khamul!" he called back. "A high destiny! Remember!"
"Go back to the Valar!" Khamul shouted at him.
As she walked back to the fortress, Khamul thought about what Gandalf had offered. Join the light, stupid to be sure. But why had she let him live? Sauron would have appreciated it if the old man was dead. Was it to spite Sauron?
Partly, Khamul thought. And partly to make sure all my bases are covered in case something goes horribly wrong with Sauron.
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