1. Chapter One
Naiore was born into a time of peace within Gil-Galad's court in the fourth year of the Second Age. From the outset, she was known to be different. She was a singularly beautiful child, with the fair hair of Finarfin's folk and eyes of living emerald. Naiore was quiet and self possessed from birth. She seldom smiled, and laughter was rarer still, yet she was not a sad or angry child. To her mother, Naiore seemed merely far older than her years. Beautiful as her eyes were, they looked on a world about which she seemed to know too much. Naiore was but two years old when her kinswoman, Galadriel, warned her parents and Gil-Galad to approach Naiore with caution. Though she could not see all ends, Galadriel sensed a powerful shadow lay over the child's future.
Naiore's childhood was thereafter spent under the ever watchful gaze of her parents. No one, not even Galadriel, could have known what they had set in motion. Naiore was born with an unusual gift that grew as she did. She was highly sensitive to the emotional states of others. As a child, she sensed the distance of her parent's love though they strove to overcome that within themselves. She sensed how different this was for other children. Naiore's young mind drew the most logical conclusion. She was loved less because of some flaw within herself. It is no small wonder that it became true.
Naiore turned ever inward. She sought no childhood friends and held herself apart, fearing somehow that the thing that flawed her so would be discovered, her sensitivity to the emotional landscapes around her. Naiore found it extraordinarily difficult to withstand the pressure of other's emotions. She began erecting barriers behind which she could shelter. To those around her, Naiore seemed aloof. This withdrawal came to be seen as arrogance as she matured into a woman accounted beautiful by lofty Noldorin standards. Many of Gil-Galad's court could not help but observe her beauty and mystery and vied for her attentions. Naiore found this intolerable, for she knew that those that sought her had no concept of who they were attempting to win. The entire social façade of Gil-Galad's court was something Naiore began to build a great store of contempt for.
The High King's court was a happy one in those days, but a court all the same. Individuals vied for position, rank and advantage all the while. Naiore abandoned her parents and Gil-Galad's court in II – 936, seeking the peace and solace of lands less populated. Naiore eschewed all others for a great while, however in II - 1004, she did permit the Lord of Eriador to espy her as she rode through his realm. Celebrimbor was utterly fascinated by her from the outset. Naiore was similarly transfixed by the grandson of Feanor.
Celebrimbor found a woman of equal intellect and keen perception. He found her quietness refreshing and her mystery alluring. He did not conceal these things from her and he did not flatter her to attempt to beguile her with artiface. Naiore found a man of utter honesty. He was the first and only to truly understand who she was and he loved her deeply for her gifts, seeing her abilities as something to be nurtured and tended rather than a flaw to be concealed and eradicated. Despite his brilliance as a smith, Celebrimbor sought humility, a rare trait in the Noldorin, as a measure of atonement for the pride of his forbearers. Naiore delighted in Celebrimbor and to him gave her heart when it was yet whole, unblemished and hers to give.
In II – 1249 Celebrimbor and Naiore both found themselves drawn to the mysterious Annatar. His lore was deep, his ways charming and the lovers were irresistibly gathered to him. Annatar delighted in the teaching of two such as Celebrimbor and Naiore. For Celebrimbor and his smiths, Annatar instructed them on the forging of rings and devices of power. For Naiore, Annatar stoked the temporarily banked turmoil of her upbringing and deepened her gifts so that she could not only sense the emotional states of others, but influence them them. Annatar's teaching combined with Celebrimbor's unflagging love saw Naiore come to view something she had considered a flaw as a gift. In time, Naiore came to resent those who had attempted to shape her in the past. She started to feel how deeply wronged she had been. She loved her parents too much to blame them but the same could not be said for Galadriel and Gil-Galad.
By the time Sauron's true identity and purpose had been unveiled, Celebrimbor were enmeshed beyond all saving in his webs. Celebrimbor managed, at least, to save the West through the secret forging of the Elven rings. He could not, however, elude Sauron's wrath. War spread across Eriador, obliterating his people. Sauron let it be known that none other than Naiore, beloved of Celebrimbor, was responsible for the smith's capture and death in II – 1697. Galadriel, who had forseen something of the shadow that lay of Naiore, had no reason to suspect Sauron lied.
Naiore was disavowed by her people. They refused to offer her aid and accounted her complicit in the tragedy that had befallen Celebrimbor's people. Her voice had been one of the strongest arguing in Annatar's favour and Sauron's lies about her involvement in Celebrimbor's capture only proved what had been feared for so long. Utterly betrayed, Naiore's rage at her people only propelled her toward the harbour that Sauron offered her. Though she knew something of his malice, for her the betrayal of her people scored her all the deeper. It pleased Sauron greatly to have seduced a Noldorin Elf. However, Sauron never enjoyed Naiore's full loyalty. Naiore turned to Sauron for one purpose – to retrieve her beloved Celebrimbor, who lingered in his dungeon. She could not countenance leaving her beloved to his fate. She now had nowhere else to go.
The first hint of the difficulty Sauron faced with Naiore came when she secreted Celebrimbor from his dungeon and hid him. Naiore was forced to return to Sauron, there was no succour elsewhere and a price had been set upon her head by Gil-Galad for her alleged treachery. Survive she had to, for Celebrimbor now depended on her entirely in his broken state. Sauron exacted a terrible vengeance for her disobedience. On the rare occasions that she was permitted to escape her terrible master, it was to Celebrimbor that she went.
Now freed from his guise as Annatar, Sauron no longer had to hide his hand. His power reigned free over Naiore and ultimately shaped her into the terror she would become, only confirming his position as Middle Earth's new Dark Lord. As Melkor had corrupted Maiar to form Balrogs and the Avari Elves to form orcs, Sauron shaped Naiore. Sauron was not given to recording his acts, and Naiore never spoke of it. We can only guess at what she endured in this time. Not once, however, did she give up the location of her beloved or his three Elven Rings. Not once did she permit her master to sense that last remaining warmth that is true love within her. Not once did Naiore openly disobey or refuse her master again. There was but one road left for her to walk and it led into the heart of evil. She took it freely in the end.
It was through Naiore that Sauron seduced the nine Black Numenoreans into his servitude. Sauron used Naiore to quell and press three realms of lesser men into his service: Harad, Rhûn and the exterior fringes of Khand. Though mortals held no interest for Naiore, she found them easy to bend to her will. Their fear of death, their desire for glory, their lust for power provided the Elf with easy thing to manipulate. Such tasks also provided Naiore with the opportunity to go to Celebrimbor. Despite her efforts, however, she could not heal the smith. Celebrimbor died in her arms in II – 3434. The death of her beloved robbed Naiore of any last vestige of hope.
The depth of her grief and ensuing despair was demonstrated in the terrible slaughter of the Silvan Elves of Greenwood and the forces of Lorien in what would become known thereafter as the Dead Marches. Word of the event and its architect came inevitably to Elendil and Gil-Galad: an elven woman. Noldorin and perilously fair; cold as northern ice. The Battle of Dagorlad endured over several months. Naiore was rarely sighted in this time. However rumour of her eddied through the Last Alliance until Gil-Galad was left with no option but to conclude that this horror was none other than Naiore Dannan – the woman held responsible for the fall of a Eriador and treachery of the man who loved her beyond all reason. Gil-Galad tripled the price on her head for any who needed such motivation.
Open battle was never to Naiore's taste. She found such excesses as distasteful. She considered common violence as beneath her. Such acts she left to Sauron's lesser forces of orcs and men. Naiore continued to prey insidiously upon the Last Alliance, in particular Gil-Galad's forces, across the seven year siege of Barad – Dûr. The infamous deadliness of the siege arose in no small part to Naiore's activities. It was a simple thing for her to manipulate the emotions of those arrayed against her master. War grinds the most noble, the most loyal, the brightest of men and Elves down. She could easily inspire them to fall on their own weapons in the night, or to fall on each other in fits of sheer madness. However, it had to be said that Naiore did not take any overt act to break the Last Alliance though it remained in her grasp to do so. Her abilities by this time were fearsome and prodigious.
Sauron's fear of Numenor's remnants grew, amusing her greatly. It was only Cirdan's presence that kept her at bay in Barad – Dûr across the seven year span of the siege. Why the mariner inspired fear in her is unknown. In desperation, Sauron offered combat against Gil-Galad and Elendil on the slopes of Mount Doom to bring the impasse to an end. Naiore's hand was in that, counselling Sauron softly, manipulating her master with the skills he had taught her. This was not idle entertainment on her behalf. Naiore held her master as accountable for Celebrimbor's death as she did her own people. If they slaughtered each other, so much the better to her.
As Sauron went to meet with his defeat and the end of the Second Age, Naiore went to the dungeons of Barad – Dûr. She easily installed herself amongst the many prisoners Sauron had taken during the siege. In the turmoil of their victory and the death of Gil-Galad and Elendil, the Last Alliance flung the dungeons of Barad – Dûr open and Naiore was freed. She fled and was lost to those of the West that later thought to look for her. It was easier to consider her extinguished and any pursuit of her was soon given up.
Sauron did not return to Dol Guldur alone in III – 1100. Naiore met him there and reunited they set about re-establishing his work. Why she did so is of some mystery. Clearly she had no love for Sauron. Perhaps, however, some path is better than none at all. Naiore had sporadically kept the Nine in some control, during Sauron's absence, along with the servitude of the southern realms. Gandalf secreted himself into Dol Guldur twice, but Naiore was seeing to matters elsewhere and was not seen by the Wizard
Sauron had plans for Dunland and Rohan, and in particular with the palantíri of Numenor. Conflict between Dunland and Rohan spilled over on more than one occasion due to Naiore's activities, but her chief work was in subverting the palantíri of Minas Ithil that had been captured in III – 2002. By the time Sauron returned to Mordor, Naiore had suborned the Ithil palantíri and sowed the seeds to destabilise the White Council and Minas Tirith both.
Naiore's tangible role in the War of the Rings was, thankfully for the West, minor. Sauron used her cautiously, in this time, and Naiore had never claimed any interest in the realms of Men. An eternity of nothingness stretched before Naiore and into that maw vanished all meaning. She was becoming increasingly unreliable, but she was too valuable to cast aside. Sauron had started to comprehend how dangerous the tool he had created could truly be. It was Naiore that stole Gollum from Mirkwood for interrogation. It was Naiore who interrogated the pitiful creature. By this time she was capable of instilling indescribable pain that transcended physical boundaries. She made short work of Gollum. The wretch was weak before she got to him, stretched so thinly by her master's Ring. It was Naiore that gathered the wraiths to be sent north in pursuit of Baggins.
Mistrustful of Saruman, Sauron reluctantly dispatched Naiore to Rohan to seek the ring directly. Sauruman's orcs however had raised the hackles of a nation already fighting a war with itself and its eastern neighbour. She narrowly escaped detection by the Rohirrim by taking flight into Fangorn. Her presence in Fangorn did not go un-noted and it was this which so roused the terrible Huons of Fangorn, to Saruman's regret and Helms Deep's relief. When Gandalf revealed himself as the White Wizard, Naiore retreated to the far north, utterly forsaking Sauron to his destruction. The mistakes that were made at the end of the Second Age were not repeated at the end of the Third. Her body was not found in the ruins of Mordor. This time her fallen master's enemies actively sought for her. The surviving peoples of Middle-Earth faced an unprecedented possibility of eliminating all Shadow. They would not let one so dark as Naiore survive.
Naiore's future as a fugitive was a bleak one. She could not return to Valinor, where her parents had fled long ago. She would slowly fade on mortal shores, an ignominious end. She was bereft of purpose, people and place. Galadriel's departure from mortal shores robbed Naiore even of vengeance for the long list of sorrows she had lain at her kinswoman's feet. Naiore had nothing but the dark memories of her life and she started to wish for death. She resolved to journey a final time to Celebrimbor's cairn. This required Naiore to venture south, to Eriador. In a rare instance of carelessness Naiore was sighted by a Ranger of the North, Hanasian, and pursued. She eluded the Ranger but did no more than that, intent only on reaching her beloved's grave. Her path crossed men of Khand that were well acquainted with her: the Khats. With Hanasian closing on her, Naiore saw an opportunity to buy necessary time and a desired death. She agreed to assist the Khats in their bid.
The Khats travelled north, there waylaying Hanasian and his men and drawing the Ranger into their net. Naiore, meanwhile, ventured to Celebrimbor's cairn. What passed there, what was said to the silent stones no one can tell, but when Naiore went south to Pelagir the final piece of her tale had fallen into place. She knew that the Khats were targeting a Khand general, one of the few who had allied themselves with the West, through the capture of his daughter and an informant. Naiore ensured the general was lured to Pelagir to save his daughter, knowing the instruction she had issued to the Khats would seem them rendezvous there. The Khats, the general and his men nor Hanasian and his Rangers could guess at her machinations.
Naiore's final act in Pelagir was a contradiction. She intervened to spare the Khat captive further torment and eased Simra's final moments into death with a tenderness perhaps only seen meted out to one other before, Celebrimbor. She pushed the Khat leader into a precarious, intolerable position, setting the man up to fall to the combined might of the general's men and the Rangers of the North. Lastly, Naiore invited her execution by the Ranger that had picked up her trail in the north, Hanasian.
It is this last encounter with Naiore Dannan of which a tale survives in the most complete detail, due to Hanasian's habit of recording his experiences. This is what he said:
It was a bright day on which terrible deeds unfolded. I know not what hand she had in any of them, but suspect she had some involvement in all of it. I was surprised to see her reveal herself on that morning. She simply removed her cowl and stood on the dock. She made no move to defend herself. She could have hidden. She could have used her terrible powers to force us to undo ourselves. She did none of these things. She merely revealed to us that Simra had been foully murdered, taunting us to strike at her, and then turned her back. I hesitated, for it seemed to me that something else was afoot.
General Arghet fired the first arrow in his grief over his daughter. His son followed and then so too did my men before I could put a stop to it. By that time the feathered shafts of many arrows quivered from her back. I confess I was uneasy. We had attacked a woman while her back was turned. I knew we would enjoy no measure of honour from her, but I was troubled that we had lost that part of ourselves in this act.
She fell to her knees then. I thought it some trick or treachery of hers and so I was careful in my approach. Despite her evil, she was fair beyond any measure. She watched me approach and said nothing. She felt pain. It showed in her eyes, but she seemed relieved also. Some of the arrows had pierced her through. I could the bloody red points where they emerged from her chest and stomach. I did not know how it was that she was still alive, though Elf she be. "'Ware," she warned.
I did not understand until the first wave hit me. It is difficult to describe, but I will attempt it. Emotions as strong as any flooding sea spilled out of her, like a sea wall that had been breached. Oceans of torment, pain, sorrow, despair, loneliness and, unbelievably, love. By the time my head cleared, I was lying on the ground. So too were my men and the Elf. By the third such wave, we had learned how to withstand it. The same could not be said for the Khats and they were easily overcome as a result. Some had been driven mad. I realised then that for each and every act she was responsible for, she also paid the price that she had locked within her across the centuries.
The walls she had built about herself were failing as she was dying. There was an image of a male Elf in my head. I don't know why, but I asked her who it was. She told me that it was Celebrimbor. I thought to try to save her so that she could stand to answer for her crimes. But there were many arrows and she was weakening fast, losing blood. She did not beg or speak or whimper. She went in silence, smiled at the last and went wherever it is that Elves go.
Once her spirit had fled her body, it was difficult to believe she had been responsible for so much evil. Even in death, bloodied and pierced, she was beautiful. I had her buried, unmarked and unnamed. I did not wish to create a place to draw other darkness to, nor create a beacon for those who may wish to despoil her remains. Anyone who felt her death understood the price she had paid already. I took her garrotte and Noldorin sword as proof of her death, the others of my company took her daggers, but I will not claim the reward that has sat on her head since the Second Age.
Long indeed was Naiore's time in the Halls of Mandos. Great indeed had her evil been. She had fallen far, but she had not done so unassisted. By mortal count, it was many thousands of years before she emerged into the gardens of Lorien and there reunited with her beloved.