The Lords of the Ring

Good morning!

I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.

A Letter Home

Thranduil handed the sealed parchment to his guards. “Deliver this to the hand of the Prince and don’t tarry on your journey. I want you back there at his side” he commanded regally. He hoped the message would get to his son soon, but if it were to fall into another’s hands it would do them no good. Only Legolas would be able to read the message within.

Aya Legolas!
All fares well I hope.
After all the waiting Mithrandir has finally returned to Imladris with less than pleasing news. It seems our strange guest was speaking true and we were right to be concerned. This bodes not well for the world – keep his words close still. Our realm is likely to suffer increased attacks and will need your leadership for some time yet – keep our people and our borders safe, ion. No dirweg!
I must go on a journey to learn more of these troubles, yet I hope that the way will bring me close to home. If Eru wills, I shall come to the Palace.
I doubt I will be able to send another letter for some time – I little know who I could trust to convey it in these dark times. Know that I am following the light and that I trust you to keep it shining still on our Kingdom.

wild root soup

wild roots soup

1 cup spring water
1cup wild onion
2 hand full of nettles
scattering of Rock tripe
smattering of wild garlic (Do not touch the false garlic or for ever sleep)
sprinkle dandelion seeds
to taste dandelions burdock and yellowdock


Aoife was playing fivestones with Shandon in the field when he turned his head towards the west.

“You missed!” she called. “My turn!”

But he ignored the four bones lying on the ground, and kept looking. Then she heard it too. The low drumbeats of hooves across the plains.

“The tithing,” he said. Aoife picked up the bones and dropped them into her skirt pocket, then hared across the field to the village, her feet kicking up the ash remnants from the burning as they did so.

They reached the village in less than five minutes. Everyone, it seemed, was preparing, scraping away dung and stones, tying dogs to posts and corralling the few sheep that wandered the lane into their pens before the riders arrived. Shandon ducked beneath the hay-cart, and Aoife scrambled after him, skinning her knee on the dusty hard-baked road surface.

Her father was there, looking very serious, taking council. She couldn’t make out what he was saying to the other men. “What’s he saying?” she asked, but Shandon shushed her. “I want to know!” But she said it in a low voice.

The council was over. Whatever it was had been decided. Her father came to the two of them. No, not to the two of them. To the cart.

Shandon touched his finger to her lips. Keep quiet. Oberve. Stay hidden. She still didn’t understand what the old folk talked about much of the time, of dowries and blood, but she knew that to learn she would have to stay hidden.

His legs, dressed in wollen trousers, seemed like pillars to her. When she was younger she had held onto them while he walked around, her feet on his, arms around his leg. When she had grown too large for that game he would hold her aloft, then sling her around his neck. There was so much more of the world up there.

Then whatever it was, was done. Her father returned to the group.

Aoife shuffled across to the wheel, peering through its dark wood slats, sunlight warming her face. There were five of the men. Her father held out his closed fist to each of them in turn, and they pulled something from it. When each had done, her father opened his fist and looked down at whatever was within it.

One of the men clapped him on the back and said something she couldn’t make out. Then they all walked away, leaving him there alone.

Then the riders were there. Tall, and blond, and seated on huge, beautiful horses. Aoife thought that she had never seen anyone so beautiful.

The lead rider spoke to her father.

“Why is the harvest not prepared? Where are the carts?”

“My Lord… the harvest was weak. The crop spoiled.”

He looked across at the granary. “Your granary still stands, I see. Were I to open it, would I see nothing within?”

“Only enough to feed us for the winter. If we are lucky.”

The rider nodded to two of his men, and they rode to the granary.

“My Lord! If you take our grain we will starve!”

The rider looked down upon her father. “The King requires your grain so that he and the Riders shall not starve. Would you disobey the King?”

“If he knew, he would be merciful!”

“King Théoden allows you to live here at his pleasure. You would do well to remember that.”

The riders returned from the granary. “A small amount.”

“You see?” said her father “We would not lie to you.”

“Is it enough?” asked the lead rider. His companion nodded, and the rider turned back to her father.

“Prepare the carts. We will take our share.”

Her father stood proud in the sunlight. “I cannot let you do that.”

The rider drew his sword and cut her father down in the street.

The rest was a blur of flames and blood.

Radagast notes



She dragged her finger through the ash of the village, drawing a long line through the black and grey flakes that had once been the meethouse.

The riders had taken everything they wanted and torched the rest. Aoife watched them until they were specks on the horizon. And then she watched the horizon until that, too, was gone, taken by the dark.


She would remember that name.

It was the only one she had, the only name that the lead rider had given as he stared down at her father with blue eyes and blond hair. He had given no name but that of his king.


The survivors had moved on. Dispersed. Thrown themselves upon the mercy of the other villages in the hills.

She had been taken in by one of the local farmers in the next village along. She had slept in the barn there, the warmth of the horses taking the chill from the air. She had even thought for a moment that it would be all right.

The riders came again. This time she left before the slaughter.

The riders were everywhere, it seemed, in every village. One after the other. Few of the Dunlending resisted. It didn’t seem to matter any more, some darkness had fallen upon them and would not leave.

Some of the villagers left their homes in time.

Those that did not, never left them again.

The strawheads drove the Dunlending from their homes. They relocated, to the caves, to the hills. A steady stream of refugees mixing. No longer did it matter which village you had been from originally. Now you were Dunlending. Wild.

“Here, darling.” Smiling eyes and mouth. A giant. A proffered gift.

That was all that Aoife remembered. Not the colour of her hair, or her smell, or the comfort of her arms… Just an outstretched hand and a small wooden box.

“This is for you. Something for precious things.”

Her mother had carved it from the heartwood of the tree. A small box, perhaps a few inches wide in each dimension and with a sliding top for keeping of jack-bones in. Aoife kept it with her, always.

She shared gossip with each new arrival, telling little, learning much. One of them said that her sister had said that her fiancée had heard that the strawheads were no longer content with meat and grain. That they said the Dunlending were wildfolk, and that they must be put down, lest like a dog with a taste for flesh they turn upon their masters rather than staying at the edge of the circle of firelight.

Put down like dogs.

Her belly was empty more often than not. But she was small, and stealthy. One of the old men took pity on her, taught her to hunt with the bow. It took her away from the rest of the Dunlending. She knew he wanted more, but she offered none. He never asked. Some days she wondered what she would have done if he had.

One of the refugees said that her father’s father’s father had journeyed to the North. There was a place there where justice survived. That once, long in the past, a Man had married an Elf, and that their descendant still lived. That he was just (if not necessarily kind). That his name was Elrond Halfelven, and he would give succour to those without hope. Sometimes.

She laughed at the time. “That I should see such, and that they would listen?”

The woman shrugged “I know what I know, and I tell what I tell,” she said. “You may listen or no, as the fancy takes you.”

That night she saw seven dark crows flying to the north, and she knew what she must do. She packed her bow and daggers and waited until the moon was full before speaking to Shandon by the river.

“Brother, I must leave you now,” she said. “I have heard that there may be help for us in the north against the Riders of Théoden, and I will take what chance I may there. But I have carried you with me long enough, and I will not let you see me perish.”

She opened him up, and poured him into the river where he spread and dispersed and was lost in the current.

She drew a line around him. The bone was pale yellow, shards in the ash.

Aoife gathered up what she could of her brother, and placed it next to her heart.

A Precious Message

As they rode from the palace, Thranduil allowed himself a small smile. He loved hunting in his forest, even now the incursions by dark creatures were increasing in regularity. He especially enjoyed it on days like today when his son accompanied him. His forest was dangerous, that was true, but much less so for the Elves that lived there and hardly at all for him, even when he didn’t have members of his royal guard with him. He could still see the beauty of his forest, hear it’s voice, despite the insidious dark decay of the past 2000 years. If only his Legolas could have experienced it in the height of its greatness and felt the vigorousness of life within it.

They headed south east towards the mountains along paths that were clear only to them. As they traveled they passed many a woodland elf settlement. The hunting party nodded greetings at the Elves, content that all was currently well with their subjects. When the sun reached it’s zenith they paused to feast in a glade with the local Elves. It was a lively meal – the local Elves enthusiastically recounted their efforts at clearing a giant spider nest nearby and their culling of a small orc party that had stumbled into the woods. Thranduil listened, pleased that they were having no problems overcoming their foes, but concerned that orc packs were straying further into his realm. He congratulated and thanked the Elves for their efforts and reminded them that the palace was there if they ever needed it or if reinforcements were required. His hosts thanked him for his consideration and reassured him they would remember his wise words. When the feast ended they swapped gratitudes, and with a regal sweep of his hand, Thranduil’s party rode off.

They’d traveled for another hour when Thranduil stopped the hunting party in his tracks and listened. Something was amiss – he could feel it. Suddenly a white stag pelted from between the trees ahead of them. Thranduil could feel the distress radiating from it and he felt his ire rising. He signaled his guards to spread out ready to circle whatever was ahead and then spurred his elk forward at a run, Legolas following alongside. Breaking through the trees they caught a glimpse of a small, pale creature with large eyes skulking by the roots of a tree. The creature frighted at the sight of the Elvenking and his son. It tried to run, only to find there were Elves all around. It leapt to a low branch and started to climb.

“Togo hon dad!” Thranduil commanded loudly.

Legolas and the Elven guard leapt after the creature, sprinting and bounding along branches. The creature was fast and wily, but he was no match for the Elves. This was their forest. It took mere moments for them to catch up with the creature and restrain him. From the ground Thranduil heard the creature’s plaintive cries and whining as he was brought back to the forest floor.

“Who are you and why are you trespassing in my realm?” Thranduil demanded.

Between the whines and moans he caught “Nasty Elves…..hurting….precious!”, before he fell into an almost cough of “Gollum, gollum!”

“Bring him!” Thranduil sighed authoritatively to his son, unhappy his hunting trip would now be cut short. “Sweep the area, catch us up!” he added to his guards.

As the guards disappeared into the trees, Thranduil turned his elk and urged it into a steady run back the way they’d come. Legolas tied the creature to one of the guard’s horses, leapt to his own elk and followed his father. They were halfway back to the palace before the guards rejoined them having found no other trespassers. The journey had been uneventful once Thranduil had demanded the creature be quiet and stop sniveling. It had carried on muttering to itself, but at an acceptably low volume.

Back at his palace, Thranduil had the creature put in a secluded underground cell. He called for Legolas and a couple of trusted advisors to join him in his private rooms.

“There is something odd about the creature we found,” he explained. “I want its presence here to be kept to just those who were there when we caught him and those here. Legolas and I will try to question it tomorrow, but in the meantime it will need feeding and checked over. If I’m not mistaken, it has been injured, though not by us.”

After the advisors left to carry out their King’s orders, Legolas approached his father, puzzled.

“You are treating this creature differently to other trespassers in our land. Why? What is the matter?” he asked.

“I do not know what it is, but something tells me that it is important,” Thranduil explained thoughtfully, choosing his words more carefully than Legolas had witnessed in some time. “It does not seem to be what it appears, like it has been corrupted from what it once was. I have not encountered anything like it before, yet it seems familiar somehow.”

Legolas’s brows furrowed further. He had no doubt his father was right to be wary – the darkness had been spreading further across the land, but what such a small, pathetic creature could have to do with it he couldn’t begin to imagine.

In the morning the creature was brought before Thranduil and his son by two of the guards they had been accompanied with the previous day. The creature was still whining and muttering to itself. As soon as the guards released it from their grip it began to throw itself about the floor fitfully. At his father’s nod, Legolas crouched down and grabbed it, to stop it hurting itself. Instead of stopping, it wriggled more till with a sigh Legolas let it go again.

“Stop that!” Thranduil commanded sharply. “We have no intention of hurting you, unless you bear this kingdom ill will. If you do – then your punishment will be swift and fatal.”

The creature stopped its writhing, instead curling up into a ball, cuddling itself tight, without a pause in muttering. The Elves listened intently in the hope it might say something that would indicate how to proceed. After some time and a few well timed questions they established the creature would answer to “Gollum”. When they removed the ropes that held it’s wrists and which it insisted, contrary to all evidence, burnt, it calmed further and became more coherent in its babbles.

Over several days of Elven levels of patience, the application of further healing balms, frequent meals of raw fish, Thranduil was confident that they were making progress. He had been right – the creature had been repeatedly tortured until recently, apparently by the Dark Lord’s forces in the East. They had wanted to know about a ring that had belonged to the creature and that had been stolen by a Hobbit. Gollum was very voluble about how much he hated Hobbits and this one in particular, frequently spitting his name and swearing vengeance if only he could find him.

It took a few more days before they learnt that the Hobbit had stolen the ring whilst Gollum had lived deep under the Misty Mountains. They unhelpfully also learnt that raw goblin was a delicious feast, though not as good as fish. The Elves were unconvinced about the culinary virtue of goblin, but they had discovered early on that letting this creature ramble without undue interruption produced more that arguing. Besides – it meant there were less goblins in the world. Gollum also seemed oddly convinced that the ring had made him invisible, making goblin killing a mere formality.

The following week, Thranduil was beginning to wonder if the creature had said everything it was going to say. They had tried to ask questions, but it was repeating the same things it had already said hundreds of times. Then all of a sudden one afternoon Gollum muttered something about the ring that caught his attention. Carefully Thranduil encouraged him to repeat it. Yes – he’d heard right and a chill gripped his heart. The ring. The ring that the Dark Lord’s forces had been asking after, the ring that this creature held so precious……it had been found in the river between this very forest and the Misty Mountains. Thranduil couldn’t be sure, and the creature couldn’t be coaxed to be anymore specific, but there was one ring that had been lost in an area that could be so described. He still remembered getting a message about the ambush and taking a small party to investigate. Remembered the bodies spread across the area, with no sign of their leader. Remembered his Elves tracking down some of the orc raiding party and making sure they would take no more lives. Knew that there had been no ring found though – it had surely been lost forever. But now he needed to know for certain that this was just a coincidence, that this unfortunate creature was just missing an ordinary ring.

Signalling for Legolas to follow him, he moved into an anteroom and alluded to his concern. He would ride to Imladris with four of his trusted guard to speak to Elrond, see if he could shed more light on the puzzle. Legolas would have to protect the realm while he was away and send private word if Gollum revealed anything more. Gollum was to continue to be treated well, but kept from sight, for his own protection.

Legolas had rarely seen his father this agitated. He had prepared to leave within the hour, only briefly pausing to remind his son of how to keep the palace secure and to watch over the forest. With barely another word, he had ridden out of the palace and into the forest.

Thranduil took the fastest path he could through the forest and tried not to look southwards where the darkness brewed. As they left the shelter of the trees and headed west across the grasslands, Thranduil felt the weight of his forest ebb away. It was Legolas who would have to protect their home now. But he would be back, as soon as he’d spoken to Elrond and found out the truth.

The Toy Maker and the Elves.

It felt to be good to be heading east. He had been a long way from home for a very long time, and even though his time amongst the dwarves of the West had felt like a home-away-from-home after half a lifetime living amongst humans, he yearned to return to Dale.

Not, he realised, that much reason remained for him to call the river town home… The passing of his mother 9 months earlier had spurred him to make his deathbed promise to her to take his toys to all the races of the world. She had given him the confidence to travel the farthest he had ever been from his workshop’s front door.

He couldn’t complain either, his pack, easily the same size as he was, was now stuffed with parts, demonstration toys, prototypes, and even a few intriguing inventions from the race’s he’d visited, but it was the full coin purse he did not begrudge weighing him down. People liked his toys, Mama was right, they really did!

For the dwarves it had been wooded figures of the heroes in the songs, wooden axes and hammers and shields, not mere practice weapons but fine replicas of Orcrist and its like.

The Hobbit lands had filled him with joy, it wasn’t just hobbit children that loved toys but their parents as well! Dolls, of course dolls sold well, but puzzles! They had bought every puzzle and skill toy he had carried, the yo-yo especially fascinated, and by the time he’d left their Shire, they could do more tricks with it in short months than he could in the years he’d been making them. Their biggest delight however, were fireworks! He had only made crude paper bangers before, but always one to follow the local market, boy had he learned to amaze and delight with colour and fire and explosion, and quickly too! He had a bag full of some of the powders he’d developed in waterproof skins.

He had not been surprised that the sons and daughters of the Men of the west liked his toys as much as the children of the towns around Dale had. For them it was his articulated wooden toy warriors, kings, queens, and dragons, everyone secretly loved having their very own dragon!

Which had only left the Elves. Never had he met an elf, but he knew they were beautiful and wise, appreciating fine craftsmanship. Long lived too, that meant long childhoods filled with many more years of toys than mortal men. That had been the way his logic had run anyway.

He couldn’t convince the locals at the Inn in Bree he’d stayed at however, they had laughed at him, saying no elf would ever find anything dwarvish to be beautiful or clever. They had laughed, yes, but he had found as the nights had worn on, that they didn’t hold their drink well, and once he’d dodged the ones that became violent, he could question those who became his ‘best friends’.

Indeed, they had even told him where he might find elves. East, the last patch of forest before the mountains… where a river runs through.

Well they had seemed amused enough about the prospect, but as he drew up to the outskirts of this daunting ancient forest, Kivi found he was not. He clutched the articulated wooden elf-doll in hand like it were some blessed holy artefact, and peered through the mist and shadows, split apart as they were here and there by slowly shifting rays of brilliant silver.

He dropped two lenses in place in his engraver’s eyepiece, ideally it made the near-but-small much larger… he had found however, with the right combination, it made the large but far, much nearer.

So with one eye on the horizon, and the other on the here and now, he pressed forward.
It had been half a day’s travel before he had any cause for alarm, he’d resigned the elf-toy from protective embrace to loosely held at his side, and he idly snapped one of his yoyo’s in graceful arcs and sudden lashes. That is, until the whistle of bow-shot severed the line and pinned his other arm by the sleeve to a tree.


“I’m very sorry sir, or, o’course madam, I cannie tell am afraid, not that am, I mean, what ah mean ta’ say is: I’m no after any trouble, am just a toy maker! Ah mek toys! Fur tha wee ones!”

He went to show the doll to the shadowy figures that now crept from the darkness of the treeline, but that arm was pinned. He reached back to pull another doll from his pack, but found his hand lighting on the hilt of the two wicked-sharp crafting knives he kept in his belt.


“I dunnie ken yer language friend, but let me start: I’m Kivi, I sell Kilison Toys, I’m nay a threat here, ah just mek things.”

At this a flash of silver described it’s arc towards the young drawf’s throat, but as quickly as it had come it was halted, the merest chime of blade on blade.


“That name, speak it again!”

“whut? Kivi? That’s me aye”

“Not that name, the other, who are you, of what line?”

“Ohh ye mean Kilison Toys? Have yeh heard of me…. Or… had yeh heard of me pappy? That’s it isn’t it? I’m Kivi, Son of Kili who followed Thorin Oakenshield to great adventure…”
The young dwarf had meant for the end of that declaration to sound proud and defiant, but his heart had betrayed him and It had sounded sad and defeated instead.

To his surprise the elf gave a sudden chuckle, slapped his kin on the arm and joked:

“had you been a few inches to the left you would have shot the very man we were sent to find!”

“That’s no man!”

“It’s no elf either, but we shan’t hold that against him…. Master dwarf! Do keep up, it’s only the Lord of Rivendell himself that seeks your audience after all!”

The tall lean pair turned and took an easy stroll away up the leafy path, it was all the son of Kili could do to wrench the arrow free and trot after them.

He stowed the arrow, well, it was good reference, and… you never did know.

A Cold Reminder

As the arrows fell beneath Thranduil’s swords and pinged off his armour, he took a moment to survey the scene to see where the threats remained. His eyes were immediately drawn to the sight of the Witch King of Angmar moving in on Radagast. From what Thranduil could see he was holding off the Witch King’s attacks, but could he hold on….they couldn’t risk anything happening to their wizard!

Aiwendil (or Radagast as Thranduil was learning to call him) was important – he loved the Greenwood as much as Thranduil and his people did. He’d cared for it’s creatures for over 2000 years and watched over the Western eaves of the forest. And whilst all wizards could be….excitable…they had whiled away many a pleasant evening together when their paths had crossed. He had to be protected!

The decision made itself. As he urged his elk over the orc bodies strewn about them, he spotted his hobbit friend trying to take a swipe at the Witch King. Halflings were truly brave if this youngster was anything to go by, but a frying pan would not be enough to stop a Nazgul. Flanking the group, he raced up behind the corrupt Witch King and with all the force he could muster, he thrust his swords into it’s back.

The effect was instantaneous. Whether the dark creature had imploded or exploded, Thranduil couldn’t say, distracted as he was by the intense cold spreading up his arm and the sight of his beautiful swords melting from the blast. The chill touch of darkness….a reflection of it’s creep into his realm…..was painful, but a numb pain and nothing….nothing like the agony of loss or the searing pain of fire. Fire so hot that even being near it burnt. So hot that skin melted away in a malodorous vapor. So hot that after thousands of years you could still feel the memory of it.

Thranduil took a slow breath and pushed the memory away, giving his numb arm a shake in annoyance. Ignoring the tattered, polluted robes of the expelled Nazgul, he rode over to the exhausted wizard and pulled him up behind him onto the elk. Before a word was uttered, Thranduil felt the cold numbness receding from his arm, leaving just the feeling of the wizard’s friendly grip on his elbow. He smiled – yes Radagast cared for them and they needed to keep him safe.

“Le fael, Aiwendil” he offered over his shoulder, his hand briefly clasping Radagast’s own where it held his elbow. He shouted to the rest of the group, “We need to leave this place now and head to Lorien”. Lorien, where the fair Lady dwelt and where he hoped he would find the small cache of weapons his father had left there in the 2nd Age.

Riding over to his hobbit friend, he grabbed his arm and pulled him up into his lap. The hobbit had fought well, but being smaller than the rest, he was at risk of falling behind if they weren’t careful. And they must get away now, before the Witch King returned or the other Nazgul appeared.

An Audience at Orthanc

‘My Lord Saruman.’ Héorl dropped to his knees before the wizard’s throne.

Saruman gestured for him to rise.

Around them, the tower of Orthanc rose, black stone into the night. What Héorl thought of as the throne room was filled with Men and Orcs – and some of this new breed, too, the Half-orcs that Saruman had used his wizardry to bring into the world.

What must it be like, thought Héorl, to have power enough to bring a new race into the world?

Saruman spoke, and the words filled Héorl with pride that such a man as Saruman would listen to him – to him!

‘How goes the work?’ Saruman asked.

Héorl rose at last, and stepped forward into a pool of light cast from the torches set into the walls of Saruman’s tower. ‘The men of the Dunlending fear us.’

‘As they should,’ said Saruman, and the moment Héorl heard it he knew it to be true. Why had he not seen it before? Were the Riders of the Mark not the bravest of all? If only Théoden would rouse himself from his lethargy and lead them to war, as he should! At least Éomer was out on the plains.

‘Does something pain you, my friend?’ asked the wizard, stepping forward into the light himself.

‘I… it would do no good to speak of it, my Lord,’ Heorl responded.

‘Please, set your mind at rest. There is nothing that you cannot speak of with me.’

‘I wish… Sometimes I wish that my King would ride to war again.’

Saruman sighed deeply. ‘His illness… his age… it cannot but be expected.’

‘Of course. Yet sometimes I wish that all could be as it was.’

‘A most excellent response. Most excellent.’ Héorl felt his breast swell with the thought, as Saruman walked down the steps towards him. ‘But I fear it is not to be, and that I must ask, even, for you to do more. With the King indisposed and Éomer busy in the East, it will fall to you to pacify the Dunlending.’

Héorl’s blond eyebrows pulled together slightly in his confusion.

‘But, my Lord… most of their villages are gone already. What else should I do?’

Saruman put an arm around his shoulder. Héorl turned with him and they walked towards the exit from Orthanc. ‘They must know of the power of the Rohirrim,’ Saruman said. Of course, thought Héorl. They were a savage people. Perhaps even the burning of their villages would not suffice.

Then they were at the door to the tower. Saruman’s orcs pulled the doors aside to reveal the great circle of Isengard, and Héorl once again was overcome by the sight.

Great towers of marble, copper, and iron linked together by heavy chains marked out the borders of each road crossing the deep bowl a mile across. Between the roads, great domes of stone were lit in red, blue, and green. As Héorl watched, steam vented from one of the domes.

He thought it quite the most beautiful thing that he had ever seen.

‘The Dunlending require a little more, before they will be willing to do what needs be done.’

‘To surrender, my Lord?’

Saruman smiled. ‘Indeed. To surrender utterly. They are almost there, I think.’

Héorl stood straighter, set his blue eyes to Saruman’s own. ‘Then tell me what I must do.’

‘They must know that the Riders of the Mark are a force to be reckoned with. To be feared. Double your attacks.’

‘My Lord, I have but a few men, the rest are with Éomer…’

‘It matters not,’ Saruman replied, cutting him off. ‘It will be enough. Things will unfold as I have foreseen. The Dunlending, so useless until now, will finally see what they must see. Double your attacks.’

‘Of course, my Lord. And any captives? Would you have them here, to aid in your great works?’

Saruman paused for a moment, staff in hand, and observed his domain. The sound of hammers and wheels, turning deep beneath the earth. The Orcs and Men, and those that contained a little of both practicing in formation. The carts bringing in fuel and raw materials.

Saruman turned to him, and Héorl knew that what he said would be true and right.

‘Burn them,’ said Saruman. ‘Burn them alive.’

Héorl bowed, and left to do his will.


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