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Aug 16, 11:31am
For those of you who enjoyed Part #1 - here's the next installment!
LOTR Fan Fiction: The Witch of Angmar #2
The Witch of Angmar
Legacy of the Fellowship
"Angmar?” Rose suppressed a shudder at the name. “Any tale that begins there will not be a cheerful one.”
Salrean’s face grew grave. “‘Tis a story I wish I had never heard – for it has haunted me ever since. Still, you had better listen carefully, for it carries a warning for you both.”
Rose remained silent; she wished Salrean would just tell the tale instead of keeping them in suspense with her cryptic words.
“The Witch-king of Angmar once ruled the domain to the far north of these lands,” Salrean began. “No one knows his real name, for he lost it when he became the servant of Sauron. While you will likely have heard the tale of the Witch-King, and how he rose to become the leader of the Ring Wraiths, you most probably are unaware that he had a sister.” Salrean paused here, as if gathering her thoughts, before resuming her tale.
“Morwyn of Angmar was a powerful witch who lived nearly three thousand years ago at Carn Dûm, in the bleak wasteland to the north. For many years, she was advisor to her brother but as her power grew, the Witch-king became wary of her. Sauron also saw her as a threat to his own power. Eventually, no longer able to take the risk, the Witch-king enlisted the Dark Lord’s help and entombed his sister deep in the Mountains of Angmar in a chamber of ice; in a deathlike sleep.”
Rose glanced across at Peri and saw that he was looking far from impressed by Salrean’s tale so far.
“That’s all very interesting,” he piped up, “and I’m as fond of a bit of history as the next hobbit, but this has nothing do to with us.”
“I agree,” Rose added. “What has this to do with hobbits?”
Salrean sighed, her intense gaze sweeping over them both. “I’m afraid it has everything to do with hobbits Rose. I apologise if I’m boring you Pericles – we shall reach the crux of the matter soon enough. May I continue?”
Rose nodded warily, while Peri shrugged as if he could not have cared less either way.
“Three thousand years have passed since Morwyn’s entombment,” Salrean continued patiently, “and since the world has long forgotten about the Witch-king and his kin, Morwyn may have remained imprisoned forever – had the Goblin King not freed her. Have either of you heard of Targkok the Goblin King?”
Both Rose and Peri shook their heads. Salrean’s mouth compressed in disapproval at their ignorance.
“‘It has always been the weakness of hobbits,” she said with a frown in her voice. “Your stubborn refusal to acknowledge the world beyond the Shire will be your downfall.”
Both hobbits remained silent after her stinging words, although Rose felt a stab of irritation at this woman’s tone. Neither of them had asked to hear her tale and she did not appreciate the superiority in Salrean’s voice. It was long past bed-time and this woman was keeping them up.
“Targkok now rules Moria,” Salrean continued. “It has been a long while since the dwarves ruled the mines. For many years, Moria has been a hive; a breeding ground for a massive goblin army that grows year by year. Targkok wanted to bring his goblin army out of the mountains, and to extend his kingdom to the west. Upon exploring the forgotten corners of Moria, the king discovered an ancient scroll hidden deep in the mines. It told Morwyn’s story and of her resting place. When Targkok discovered that a sorceress slept in a cold tomb deep in the Mountains of Angmar, he travelled there himself. It took him nearly two years, but he eventually found Morwyn and woke her from her long sleep, so that they could join forces.”
Peri folded his arms across his chest. “If you spend much longer getting to the point it’ll be morning.”
“A little more patience Pericles,” Salrean snapped, “I’m getting to the part that concerns you.”
Peri frowned at this but held his tongue, allowing Salrean to continue.
“Morwyn was awoken nearly three summers ago, and since then she has rebuilt her brother's fortress at Carn Dûm. She now resides there and has been amassing an army of her own from the tribes of hillmen who inhabit the wastelands of Angmar. Targkok aids her. His goblin army has taken Rivendell, for there are no longer any elves left to defend it, and he has sent an army of five-thousand to Carn Dûm in support of Morwyn.”
“How did you learn all this?” Rose asked, feeling her first jolt of discomfort at Salrean’s tale. The idea of a huge army of hillmen and goblins amassing in the north was alarming to say the least.
“My people dwell in Farnost, close enough to Angmar to notice that the wastelands have suddenly come to life. I am a ranger, and was sent with a small party to scout the territory north of our home. We saw the army of hillmen and goblins, and witnessed the walls of Carn Dûm being rebuilt – but it was only when we captured a goblin deserter that we learnt the tale I have just told you. In the border lands, we captured Azil, a goblin who had accompanied Targkok on his quest into the Mountains of Angmar. We tracked him for two days before we caught him in a ravine. He had climbed a tree and we had to cut it down to capture him.
Azil was a pitiful creature who had deserted Targkok on the journey to Carn Dûm. He was so seized with terror after meeting Morwyn that he fled. When we met him, he was a babbling wreck who lived a scavenger's existence in the Black Woods. Despite his terrorised state, he took some convincing. In the end we had to beat him, but eventually he told us some of what he knew.”
Despite that even the mention of goblins made Rose’s skin crawl, she felt a stab of pity for Azil; he must have been truly terrified to have run like that. Salrean’s casual mention of beating the goblin in order to get him to talk made her suddenly nervous of the ranger. “What did you do with him afterwards?” she asked warily.
“We decided to take him back to Farnost with us for further questioning,” Salrean replied, “but Azil chewed through his bonds one night and escaped. ‘Twas a pity for there was much more we could have learnt from him. Before he escaped, Azil did provide us with worrying news,” Salrean's voice lowered then, as if she believed that the night had ears. “He told us that although Targkok merely wishes to extend his kingdom beyond Moria, Morwyn has greater ambitions. She was alarmed to discover that hobbits – namely a Baggins, a Gamgee, a Brandybuck and a Took – had played a key role in Sauron's downfall. She also learned that it was a woman and a hobbit who struck the Witch-king down on the Pelennor Fields. She has decided that if she wants to extend her influence south, the hobbits must be taken care of. The Shire must fall.”
A chill silence followed Salrean’s words before she continued.
“The rest of what Azil babbled seemed complete nonsense – except for one thing. He kept mentioning a red book; a history book written by Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. Targkok is obsessed about it; he is convinced that it contains great ‘secrets’. Morwyn is also convinced that hobbits possess powers beyond men, elves or dwarves. She wants that book, for she believes it will give her the edge over Sauron’s foes. All she knows is that it dwells somewhere in the Shire, in the home of one of the descendants of the Fellowship. She has despatched one of her minions to retrieve it. He travels here as we speak.”
Salrean’s voice trailed off here, her gaze riveted upon Rose and Peri as they exchanged nervous glances.
“They want the Red Book?” Peri tore his gaze away from Rose’s and attempted a flippant smile. “It holds no secrets that we know of. As you said, it is merely a history written by Bilbo and Frodo – of the finding of the one ring of power and of the fall of Sauron.”
Salrean nodded, her expression hooded.
“Who has it?”
Again, Rose and Peri exchanged wary glances.
“Come, I mean you no harm,” Salrean urged, “I have travelled without rest to find you before Morwyn’s servant does. Once he reaches the Shire it will not take him long to track down the book. I need to know who keeps it.”
A further silence stretched between them before Rose finally responded.
“The Red Book is in my father’s keeping.”
“Rose!” Peri snapped. “You shouldn’t have told her that!”
Rose shrugged. “As you said, the book contains no secrets. It’s certainly not worth getting hurt over. The only real value it has is sentimental. I’m a descendant of Samwise the Great.”
“My father told me that as far as he knew it told nothing more than Bilbo and Frodo’s adventures,” Salrean admitted, “yet Morwyn’s act has made him doubt his own belief. That is why he has sent me.”
“You want the book! That’s why you’re here!” Peri burst out. “You didn’t come here to warn us about an impending attack on the Shire. You came to take the Red Book for your father!”
“I did come to warn you,” Salrean shot back. “The threat is very real. Once Morwyn has the book, she will send her armies down, through our lands, till they reach the Shire. Believe me, the book is safer in my father’s hands than Morwyn’s. If it does indeed contain secrets then my father should be able to unlock them. He is wise among my people and has the gift of foresight.”
“I’m not giving you my father’s book,” Rose replied, feeling her own anger rise. Peri was right after all.
“If you don’t, Morwyn’s servant will take it from you,” Salrean responded, her calm manner returning. “I am not here to force you to do anything, but ignoring my warning is dangerous, both for you and your family if the book stays in your home.”
“And what do you suggest I do?” It was Rose’s turn to cross her arms across her chest.
“Meet me here in two nights – you too Pericles. Make sure to bring the book with you. I want you both to travel with me back to Farnost. Join us on a quest to destroy the Witch of Angmar.”
“What?” Peri’s usually good-natured face was hard, his eyes narrow slits. Rose could see that he was struggling to control his temper. “Is it not enough that you come here and tell us some preposterous tale about sorceresses, goblins and warmongering, but we also have to leave our homes and our families and travel with you – a complete stranger – into the wild?”
“I know how it sounds,” Salrean replied, “but I...”
“Exactly. In my opinion, you’re cracked!”
“Peri...” Rose put out a hand and rested it on his shoulder but he shook her off.
“I hope you haven't believed a word Rose. I told you that the race of men is nothing like Shire folk. They are sly, subtle and manipulative.”
Rose’s gaze flicked from her friend to Salrean before she eventually made up her mind.
“I have to agree with Peri,” she told the ranger. “We don't know you – we have no reason to trust you. I won’t be bringing you the book in two days, and we won’t be going anywhere with you.”
She had expected Salrean to become angry at that, but the woman just gave an enigmatic smile.
“You are both clever, and you do well not to trust easily. Yet, I’m not asking you to do this for yourselves, but for your families. For the Shire.”
Salrean got to her feet and jumped lightly down from the wagon.
“I will wait for you both here, under these trees, two nights from now. Morwyn’s servant is still a few days behind me, we should have enough time.” Salrean turned back to the hobbits, her face grave. “For the present, return home, make your excuses to your parents and pack a bag each for your journey north. Besides the Red Book, don't bring too much else for we will be travelling light and fast. In the meantime, I suggest you keep our conversation to yourselves – ‘tis better not to alarm folk just yet.”
Salrean wrapped her cloak tightly around her and stepped back into the shadows. “I bid you both goodnight.”
“What if we say no to joining you?” Peri shouted after her. “We don't have to do as you bid. We don't have to go anywhere with you if we don't wish to!”
A soft laugh followed Peri's words.
“No you don't Pericles Took – but if you care anything for the lives of your families and your people you will.”
With that, Salrean melted back into the night like a wraith.
Rose sat still for a few moments, trying to make sense of it all. Despite the mild night, she felt shivery.
“How dare she!” Peri leapt up and scrambled off the cart. “I don’t need to do her bidding to prove I care for my family. And as for her tale of the Witch-king of Angmar’s sister – absurd!”
“You're right Peri,” Rose replied, her gaze still fixed on the spot where Salrean had disappeared. “Such a story belongs in my father's Red Book, not in our lives.”
“Surely you don't believe her?” Peri turned to Rose. The darkness hid his expression but his voice was incredulous.
Rose shook her head. “Of course I don't – ‘twas a frightening tale all the same though.”
Peri snorted in response. “Frightening? Only if you're soft-headed! Those with good hobbit sense know foolery when they see it! If I were you Rose, I’d head straight home and hide your father’s book. Forget about some witch’s servant coming for it – it’s Salrean you should be looking out for!”
With that, Peri Took stormed off down the hill towards the Green Dragon Inn. Rose watched him go. Her mind was churning and her stomach tense.
She wanted to whole-heartedly agree with Peri – but she had pretended to see things his way merely to appease him. Truthfully, Salrean’s tale had unnerved her. The thought of a stranger breaking into her family’s home made her feel faint and breathless. Imagining an army of men and goblins stampeding through the Shire, murdering, burning and destroying, made tears sting her eyes. Suddenly, her dreams of adventure and excitement seemed childish.
Rose wished she had never come to Hobbiton today for the market. She wished she had never stayed for the fireworks.
End of Part #2