64. On the Way to Imladris
"I can't believe it! Run out by a bunch of midgets!" Khamul fumed as their horses thundered across the land.
"I believe they are no longer following us," Vorea said, glancing behind.
"I hope not! Those little bastards gave chase the better part of the night!"
"We are almost beyond the Shire's borders. Shall we meet up with Morgoth and the others?"
"Dammit, but I think we have to. Nobody'll be pleased if we just go off to some random place. Hey. Here's a stupid question, but I'm going to ask it anyway. Can you find the Ring, Aica?"
"No," Aica said. "If I could, don't you think I'd've done it before now?"
"I don't know."
"I have to know who I want to see. There're tons of Halflings."
"So you can't do anything the easy way. All right, fine. We're going to have to do it the hard way."
"A Halfling had, and presumably still has, the Ring. He lived in the Shire, but he's left. Why?"
"Because he knows we're after him," Aica said.
"Yes," Khamul said. "But who told him?"
"Gandalf," Vorea said. "We met him on Amon Sul and fought with him briefly."
"You fought Gandalf?!"
"Indeed. He fought well, and beat us soundly."
"He just had some flashy tricks," Aica snarled.
"He escaped in a burst of light," Vorea explained.
"Never knew he had it in him," Khamul muttered. "It must've been Gandalf then who warned the Halfling."
"Where is the Halfling going now?"
"I don't know!"
"Think logically," Vorea said. "There is only one safe haven in all northern Arda."
Vorea nodded. "He will make for Imladris, but he would be a fool to do it alone. Gandalf would suffer no fool to bear the Ring."
"So he's got friends. Who?"
"Likely some loyal allies from the Shire."
"Halflings?" Aica sneered.
"They would offer no protection against us. Gandalf knows that. Therefore, perhaps a squadron of Rangers will guard the Ringbearer."
"A squadron?" Khamul laughed. "First of all, they don't have that many to spare. Second, that would attract far too much attention. Probably one or two." Like Aragorn? she thought. Yes, just like him. Probably be him too.
"It is a dangerous journey," Vorea said. "But a necessary one. In Imladris he will be safe for a time."
"Well, looks like we've got to beat him there then."
"Nobody's on the road for miles ahead of us," Aica said, looking into the palantir. It was unnerving how she could do that even while riding at full speed.
"The straightest way would take them through Bree."
"That's where Morgoth's going."
"Dammit. Looks like we're going to meet him." Khamul scowled. She would have preferred to never look upon the twisted features of Morion. She could still make him out sometimes in that horrible face. It was like he'd been nothing but a puppet and the puppetmaster had finally claimed his own.
"You know where a great place for an ambush would be?" Aica asked, watching the palantir.
"I hate that place."
"We won a great victory there," Vorea reminded her.
"But we also got defeated there," Khamul argued. "And the palantir was lost."
"What does it matter? Victory was at last achieved. Arnor was destroyed."
"For a time. The Heir's still alive. Somewhere." Somewhere nearby, probably. Dammit, I'm going to end up killing him, aren't I? I don't want to do that. Why can't someone else? Someone who's not Morgoth. Valar, not Morgoth. Nobody deserves to get killed by him.
The gray lands of lost Arnor blurred together. Khamul had been here before and it all looked the same. It didn't matter how many thousands of years passed, the place always looked the same.
"There they are," Vorea said one afternoon, pointing at five black horses riding toward them.
Khamul growled. She could feel the presence of Morgoth even from here. Was he getting more powerful? Strong enough to challenge Sauron? Perhaps. But if he had the Ring, there would be no contest. No contest at all.
"I see you did not find the Halfling nor the Ring," Melkor said, shooting a glare at Khamul.
"No," Khamul said. She decided not to mention the house and the chase from the Shire.
"He escaped us in Bree as well." This time the Dark Lord glared at Yanta, who looked pointedly elsewhere.
"What did you do?" Khamul muttered.
"This will be a tale," Vorea said.
"We're just going to sit here and talk?" Aica asked. "I know where he is."
"You do?" Khamul snapped.
"Where?" Melkor hissed.
"Only one place he can be going, huh? These lands aren't safe, and he's heading for Rivendell. There's a nice shelter on the way to Rivendell."
"Amon Sul," Melkor said. He didn't say another word but spurred his horse onward toward the east.