22. White Wolves
Khamul had a sour expression on her face, which Aica didn't notice as she was buried in her palantir, tracking their quarry. The wolves did though. They were huge white beasts with enormous paws and teeth.
The war was over and the dwarves had won. However, they had won at such great cost that it had hardly been worth winning.
"The Battle of Azanulbizar was exciting," Aica said. During the whole battle, no one in Minas Morgul had seen a glimpse of Aica. She'd been locked in her room, glued to the palantir.
"Lots of dwarves, more orcs, one or two important dwarves, and Azog. They cut off his head and jammed some coins in his mouth."
"Did the balrog get involved?"
"No. It was still lurking in the halls. One of the dwarves…Dain Ironfoot, saw it. Everyone was talking about reclaiming Moria, but then he went in for a look and noticed that there was a freaking great monster in it. That discouraged people."
Khamul nodded. The goblins of the Misty Mountains had been virtually wiped out. Quite a lot had fled south to Rohan, where they were being slaughtered by the hundreds.
"The tide's turning against us," she muttered.
Aica looked up, a nasty smile on her face. She leaned down from the horse and patted one of the wolves. "Not with these on our side," she said.
"Where is he?" Khamul asked.
Aica looked into the palantir, then glanced around. Her eyes fixed on a group of trees not far away. "They have a camp there," she said.
"What? That's impossible! That grove couldn't be more than five trees thick!"
"It's a lot denser than it looks and they've got a permanent camp in it."
"How many are there?"
"Only about ten. Most of them have gone off hunting."
Khamul smiled. "And he's there?"
"Go on," Khamul snapped to the wolves. "Go hunting. You heard Aica. There's a camp in the woods. Find it and kill everyone."
"What're we going to do?" Aica asked as the pack of wolves took off toward the forest.
"Wait and see if anyone comes out. If they do, we kill them."
Aica grinned and twirled the palantir in her hands.
"Do you ever talk to Sauron in that?" Khamul asked.
"No," Aica said. "He doesn't even know I have one."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. This is the master-stone. He just has the Ithil stone. It's not as powerful."
The idea of Aica having something more powerful than Sauron was deeply amusing. "So he can't spy on you through his or something?"
"If there was a third palantir, and Sauron was talking to that person, then I could spy on them and neither one would know I was listening in."
"Really?" Khamul asked. This had possibilities. Except these were the only two palantir in existence…weren't they? "Are there anymore palantir?" she asked.
"There were seven originally," Aica said. "One's in Tower Hills and it's completely worthless. Only looks to the West."
"And the others?"
"Two were lost with Arvedui, I've got one, and Sauron's got one."
"You're missing two," Khamul said.
"Tower Hills, two with Arvedui, you, and Sauron. That only adds up to five. Where are the other two?"
Aica frowned. "Uhhh… Oh! One's in this abandoned keep somewhere in Gondor. They forgot that it's there, but I spied into it and found it. It's in this black tower…near plains."
A horrible thought occurred to Khamul. "Is there a ring of stone around this tower?" she asked.
"Yes," Aica said. "What is it?"
"Isengard!" Khamul exclaimed. "That's Orthanc! There's a palantir in Orthanc!"
"Isn't that where the wizard is?"
"Yes! That's why he wanted it! He's got a palantir!"
"The Orthanc stone isn't powerful at all," Aica said.
"Where is the last one?" Khamul hissed.
"I never really looked for it."
Aica shrugged. "I didn't feel like it."
"Do it. Now."
Aica scowled but put her hands on the palantir and closed her eyes. I know where six are, she thought. Where is the seventh?
Blue skies from white windows. Clouds. Another tower. From another window she could see ruins far across a river. And beyond that…black mountains.
"Minas Tirith," Aica said.
"It's also in a tower."
"The White Tower!" Khamul growled. "The steward of Gondor has a palantir as well!"
"At least three of them are useless," Aica said. "Two at the bottom of the sea, and the third only looking West."
"The steward of Gondor and an Istari have a palantir!"
"So they…wait…is the Minas Tirith stone powerful?"
"Not as powerful as mine," Aica said. "About as powerful as the Ithil stone, although it really depends on the will of the user."
"If it was Sauron versus the steward, Sauron would win because he's a Maia and the steward's a Man. Sauron has a stronger will."
"What if it was a Man with a really strong will?"
"I don't know. Sauron would probably still win because he's Sauron."
"What if you and Sauron were to engage in a battle through the palantiri?" Khamul asked.
"I don't know," Aica snapped, getting tired of questions. "The master-stone's really strong, but Sauron's a Maia."
"Could you trick someone looking into a palantir? Show them something you wanted them to see?"
Aica snorted. "Of course. It's incredibly easy. I could do it in my sleep, but I haven't had any practice because no one except Sauron ever looks into one."
"Try it with the steward if he ever looks into it," Khamul said.
"He never does. I'd've sensed it."
"Well, keep watching," Khamul snarled. "Here come the wolves."
The white wolf pack ran back to their handlers, mouths and coats covered in blood.
"Successful hunting, huh?" Khamul asked.
One of them spat something out and Khamul jumped off the horse to see what it was.
"What is it?" Aica asked.
Khamul cleaned the blood off a piece of metal. "It's a six-pointed star pin," she said. "It looks fancier than the others." She smiled and patted the wolf on the head. "Good job. Looks like that's one more Dunedain chieftain dead."
"Is he the last one?"
Khamul's smile faded. "No. His son's in Rivendell. And he'll have a son, and he'll have a son, and the damn line will just continue forever."
"Unless we sever it, huh?" Aica asked, smiling.
"We're going back to Minas Morgul now," Khamul said, "but if you ever see a man come out of Rivendell, particularly a young man, tell me."
"Probably going to be him, huh?"
"Or another one of the Dunedain. It'll be good to track their movements."
Khamul thought the tide was turning against them, but Aica couldn't disagree more. They had two palantir, a growing host of orcs and trolls, and the ringbearers themselves. They also had the element of complete and utter surprise.
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.