Eowyn was captured at the Battle of Pellenor Fields on March 15 and taken to Lugburz by the Witch-King (Angmar). Her uncle, Theoden, king of Rohan, was beheaded by Angmar and then his head was presented to Lord Sauron as a trophy. Wishing only revenge on Eowyn for daring to challenge him in battle, Angmar had her tortured in the dungeon at Lugburz, and then placed great spells of enchantment on her, making her believe that she was in love with Angmar. Under this bewitchment, Eowyn saw the unseen face of Angmar appearing as that of her first love, Aragorn. He gives her a new name, "Maltriel," meaning "Lady Garlanded by Gold." Later, Angmar mixed powered paste of the unriped seed pods of poppies with her wine, thus adding opium addiction to the spells of enchantment.
Angmar enchants Maltriel's mind into thinking that she she was a lady of Gondor, a vassal state of Mordor, and that the wicked powers of the West are attacking the righteous country of Mordor. Preying upon her idea of being a soldier, he deceives her by letting her think that he is sending her out as a soldier of Mordor to fight against her own people, the Rohirrim.
It is May 25, 3019. Maltriel had been missing both her "medicine" and Angmar. She was walking about the camp at Firien Woods when she caught a far distant speck on the eastern horizon. It was Angmar returning to join the army. She cannot control her exuberance at the sight of him and the promise that at last she would get more of her "medicine."
After dismounting from his beast, he strode to Khamul's tent to announce his presence. Maltriel rushed to greet him. His words to her were only, "Dear Lady, pray cease your useless aggitation. Your lord has come back."
He turned from her and went into Khamul's headquarters tent.
When Maltriel first saw the black speck in the sky, a feeling of joy filled her heart. She watched the shape come closer with eager anticipation, fearing that perhaps her feelings deceived her. However, when the Nazgul landed his fell beast, she knew instantly that her heart had been right and it was indeed Angmar, whom she thought was her beloved.
In this man held her hopes and dreams..... he was a warrior and a king... a figure of nobility and power whom she deeply admired and felt she loved. Also, with his coming was the promise of more of the medicine which she greatly needed. The supply had been running low, due to the fact the army had been camping extra days at the merring stream.
Angmar had quickly dismounted from the fell beast and brushed past her, telling her to cease her useless aggitation for he had come back. Then he entered lord khamul's tent and had not yet returned.
Maltriel felt like singing.... she felt like dancing. But she tried to contain her joy.... she mustn't make a fool of herself.... especially not in the middle of the camp. Angmar might look down upon her and consider her nothing but a silly child.
However, despite her fears, Maltriel was thankful for this feeling of happiness. so long had she felt nothing but emptiness when all of the effects of her medicine had worn off. First came the feelings of euphoria... pleasant dreams that she could not tell from reality.... but when she started to come down from the heights, the nightmares and halucinations began.... and she found herself in a phantasmagoria of pain and terror. When that passed, her heart sank into a pit, depression the only thing filling the emptiness... and an intense longing to go back to the blissful oblivion she had once known.
Maltriel waits outside Khamul's tent, waiting for Angmar to exit.
Inside the tent, both Angmar and Khamul can sense the presence of Maltriel just outside the tent. Neither needs to talk to the other because they can commune with thought alone and they do not want her to overhear what they have to say. Both feel slightly uneasy because they can sense her mortality. The very air to them seems to reek of her smell. Blood. The thought bond between them remains connected, however.
Khamul: "Then the Master urges us
to press onward?"
Angmar: "Aye, indeed he does. He says nothing has changed. Commence your march to Rohan."
Khamul: "And the woman, my lord?"
Angmar: "Lomin will be her guide, and you tell me he is very efficient."
Khamul: "Aye, my lord. He will let her 'lead the charge' and then fall back from her and retreat. Foolish woman!"
Angmar: "Now I will have to go out and speak pleasant words to the wench. I hate her. I hate her. I hate all of them."
He rises and leaves.
Suddenly Maltriel's attention is turned towards khamuls tent as she sees Angmar open up the tent flap. she quickly walks towards him, pausing a few feet away. She bows... resumes standing, a smile on her face and her eyes shining.
"Hail Lord Angmar. Welcome back."
Angmar sees her as he comes through the tent opening. He bows low to her and says, "Hail Maltriel, well met." He thinks to himself, "By Melkor himself, the presence of the mortal curses me again."
Making every attempt to keep his voice sounding fair, he says, "You look well today, Lady Maltriel. Have you had your medicine today? Has Lomin been looking after you properly?"
"You look well today, Lady Maltriel."
Her face radiating with affection and awe, she flashes him a lovely smile. "Thank you lord."
"Have you had your medicine today? Has Lomin been looking after you properly?"
Her medicine? she had almost forgotten about it in her joy to see Angmar. His question causes her heart to sink and an intense longing to fill her spirit. But if she takes her medicine, then she will fall into blissful oblivion... and she dearly wanted to talk to her love, for it had been so long since she had seen him last. However, her whole body seemed to yearn for it.
For the first time she found herself in this delimma...... torn between the man she thought she loved and her addiction to poppies. Her addiction had grown greatly since she had last seen Angmar. When she first started taking the potion in the silver vial, she had not cared for it much, for she felt that being dependent upon medicines somehow proved that she was weak and frail. The potion made her feel so strange, and the dizziness that accompanied her journeys into worlds unknown had upset her stomach at first, especially if she had not eaten. But the more she took it, the more she grew to love it, and either she was able to ignore the side-effects or they vanished for the most part.
Of course she did not realize she was addicted. she feared that her illness was becoming worse, and that was the cause of the horrible nightmares and visions she had while coming down from her poppy-induced highs and the depression and feelings of emptiness that followed when the effects of the potion were completely gone..... which, of course, would require more medicine to cure. Ah, the leechcraft of mordor.
She looks at the ground, not wanting him to see the desperate look in her eyes... stiffening so he would not see even the slightest tremble of her body, a subtle slump of her shoulders. He would think she was weak and sickly.... and would make her stay behind and rest while the strong, healthy men fought.
"Yes, my lord, Lomin has been looking after me, and I appreciate his care." she hesitates. "It.... has been many hours since I last took my medicine... but perhaps.... perhaps..." she calls upon her pride and forces herself to look up at him. She smiles weakly. "....I could.... talk with you first? For I have missed you greatly.... and my heart has yearned for your return."
Her eyes drift back to the ground, and her body tenses more.
Angmar walks over to her, and takes her by the hand. He looks into her eyes. "Ah, my lady, it is good to know that you are feeling well and that Lomin is taking good care of you. I want you to come with me to my headquarters tent, so that I can give you your medicine myself."
He takes her left arm in his right and leads her to his tent. Orcs bow before them as they walk toward it. Once inside, he goes to field medicine cabinet and takes out a vial. He then goes to the wine cabinet, and pours a glass of wine and pours the powdered contents into it.
"Here, my lady, some more medicine for you."
He already had decided to increase the dosage, now that they were on the borders of Rohan, and he wished to make sure that her addiction grew. She was already bewitched by many potions and spells, but her dependency upon the poppies was his special revenge.
"Sit down, dear lady, and drink."
Maltriel watched his every movement, her heart fluttering whenever he came near her. She deeply admired this man, and it seemed to her that she loved him. She held him in the highest respect and idolized him to some degree. Deep in her heart she also held a secret envy towards him.... for he was strong and powerful.... free to do what he wanted. The thought confused her. She assumed it came to her because she was ill, and he appeared to be in the best of health.
She goes with Angmar to his tent, feeling elated to walk beside him and have his arm in hers. he speaks of her medicine.... She feels both disappointed and relieved at the same time.... disappointed for she wished to talk to him in this rare moment when the world of the waking brought her true happiness, but relieved for soon she would be travelling into a beautiful world where everything was in peace and harmony..... and flowers sprang before her feet as she walked and birds sang around her like Melian in the forests of Doriath in ages past.
Maltriel eagerly watches Angmar go to his cabinets and prepare her medicine... trying to control the butterflies in her stomach, a product of her excitement. She sits at the table at his command, and reaches for the glass of wine.
She takes a few sips..... the wine is sweet and hides most of the bitterness of the dark powder.... a bitter-sweet posion.... so delightful to her but still posion....
"Thank you, my lord..." she beams at him happily... "How goes the war?" ....but she rapidly is slipping into the dreamy world of poppies...
Angmar does not pour himself any wine, because he has other things upon his mind. He takes a seat at the table near Maltriel.
He says, "You ask of news of the war, my lady? There have been a few changes in plans. I have decided that it is too dangerous for you to go on scouting missions. Instead, you will ride beside me in the vanguard of the army."
He thinks, "What can be a more fitting position for this foolish mortal than to ride beside me? Her people can see her there more easily, and perhaps an arrow might strike her in this forward position." He laughs to himself. "She wanted to fight after all, didn't she? It is her misfortune that she chose to fight against me. Curse her and her wretched uncle!"
"How do you find your wine, my lady? Does your medicine soothe your troubled thoughts? You really need to rest more."
His thoughts please him. "Her account will someday be settled and with her blood it will be marked 'paid in full.'"
Oh! And her feet dance lightly upon the clouds, kicking up small clouds of mist like balls of cotton.... She has not a care in the world for she is far beyond its circles, dancing in worlds unknown and unexplored. no ache nor pain does she feel.... No longer do the bruises on her sides from the many falls she has had due to the effects of her "medicine" bother her. Indeed, nothing seems to be able to harm her... she is impervious to all in these heavenly heights.
Maltriel sits at the table, leaning forward. her elbow rests upon the table, her hand resting upon her cheek, propping up her head... Gravity weights down her head and it slides down her hand every few seconds or so, but she always pulls it back up before slumps head-first upon the table. She stares at Angmar with a dreamy expression on her face.
"You ask of news of the war, my lady? There have been a few changes in plans. I have decided that it is too dangerous for you to go on scouting missions. Instead, you will ride beside me in the vanguard of the army."
She vaguely hears his words, as though they were coming from someplace far away. She forces herself to concentrate on their meaning, and figure out a fairly intelligent-sounding answer. What is he saying? Too dangerous for her to go on scouting missions? That would imply that she is being protected because she is a woman, a dainty flower that is beautiful but of no power and no use other than its beauty.
She puts her arm down and readjusts her sitting position to one that appears more attentive.
"How do you find your wine, my lady? Does your medicine soothe your troubled thoughts? You really need to rest more."
"My lord, I assure you....." comes her delayed response, "that no mission is too dangerous for me, though to ride with you with the vanguard would bring me great honor. I ask this of you.... please do not take pity on me because I am a woman.... for if I were not ill, I would fight as bravely and as gallantly as any man."
She leans back in her seat, slipping into pleasant daydreams. Then it occurs to her that he had said something else to her. She sits back up, turning her attention once again to Angmar.
"Oh! M'lord, aye, I find my wine most delightful. As ever, my medicine makes me feel as though I had not a care in the world!" she laughs lightly. "Ah... but to rest and to sleep? I try to fight it as long as I can. I do not like lying around when I can at least totter around and do something of use."
"For anyway," she says with a laugh, "even when I am awake, it feels as though I were in a dream, and a glorious one at that!"
Maltriel leans back in her chair, her head lolling to the side. Her grey eyes gradually close from drowsiness, a faint smile playing upon her face.
Angmar looks at the woman slumped in her chair. A wicked smile plays upon his unseen face as he sees her eyes close and her head loll to the side, a foolish smile about her face. He considers leaving her there but he knows that soon enough she will fall into a drugged sleep and slide forth from her chair and fall upon the floor. It was not that he cared that she fell upon the floor, but there was always the chance that she might finally have such a severe crash to the ground that it would break some of her bones. Angmar did not want that. No, no, he wanted her intact and unharmed so that she could greet every Rohan prisoner taken, and they could gaze in horror at what had happened to their "White Lady" who would be tainted forever hence in their eyes.
Angmar looked forward to the day when the conquering Mordor army would ride into Edoras. He knew exactly what any survivors there would feel as they looked at their princess. Disgust. Revulsion. Rejection. Hatred. And that was exactly what Angmar wanted - his revenge. This thought has now become an obsession with him, "Her account will someday be settled and with her blood it will be marked 'paid in full.'"
He goes to her limp form in the chair, picks her up, and tosses her unceremoniously upon his couch. He thinks to himself, "Fool! You dared challenge me on the fields of Pelenor? I should have killed you then and cut your witless head from your body and presented it with its staring, vapid eyes and blood-soaked blonde tresses to the Master as a gift."
He kisses her on the throat and laughs. Then he sits at the table, all thoughts of her gone from his mind. The army will break camp and begin moving towards Edoras, a journey of 10-12 days. Angmar was looking forward to that. There would be much blood, and he longed to spill his share of it.
They were flying through the air, high above endless plains of tall grass. A gentle breeze tossed the grass to one side, and it shimmered from green to silver. Maltriel leaned her head back against Angmar's chest, the breeze tossing around a few stray strands of her bound hair. Angmar's strong arms reached around her to control the reins of the fell beast. Though they were not riding into battle and glory together, she still felt happiness in this moment of peace.
Suddenly she felt as though she were falling.
Her eyes fly open.
"My lord! I fear you have had too much wine! Perhaps you should give the reins to me, lest we crash and perish from the fall."
She feels him kiss her throat. How does he do so? She sees his dark shape looming above her through her blurry vision..... her eyes only now half-open. It appears she is lying on the ground.... but the ground is strangely soft. Had they crashed? Did it really matter? She still felt like she was floating.
"Very well, mi'lord..... but still drinking too much before embarking on a journey by flying steed is never a wise choice. We are quite fortunate indeed to have survived that fall..."
She reaches her hand up to touch him, but it falls back limply to the couch. She soon drifts off into a deep slumber of wonderful and fantastic dreams, and says no more.
Problems and uncertainties brought on by a strange vision that Shakh (Lord) Khamul, Second-in-Command to the Witch-King, cause the army to halt at the camp near Firien Woods until orders are received from Sauron on whether the army should continue or not. Storms from the West stalk the path of the army and cause it endless delays. A great storm from the West strikes on June 1, and by late afternoon that day, the protecting cloud covering from Mordor is blown away, revealing Arien, the Sun, to Maltriel for the first time.
June 1, 3019 - Two hours before daylight the day the army breaks camp at Firien Woods.
Through a night that never seemed to end, Angmar had tended to the business of issuing orders, and giving last minute commands to his captains. Two hours before dawn was the time set for the army to get into motion.
He thinks to himself, "Now she is dreaming she is riding a fell beast again! The foolish, vapid creature!" When she screams out in her sleep, "I am falling!" he walks over to her and starts to put his hand upon her mouth, but she wakes up instead.
His unseen face is filled with disgust. He looks down at her and the temptation comes over him to take his hands and strangle her, but this would be too easy, too quick. He would continue to bear the irritation of her presence a while longer yet.
"Go back to sleep, my love. You will need all your strength for tomorrow." He watches as she falls back into slumber.
All through the night, he had listened to the woman now known as Maltriel mumble gibberish in her drug plagued sleep. For hours, she would babble and then wake up and look around with glazed eyes. It had been all he could do to refrain from silencing her forever when she disturbed him from his work.
The long hours of the night finally pass.
"You have been dreaming, my lady." He laughs. He offers her his hand. "Arise. We ride with the army in an hour. You must eat and prepare yourself first"
He thinks to himself, "This night has been unending!"
"You have been dreaming, my lady." He laughs. He offers her his hand. "Arise. We ride with the army in an hour. You must eat and prepare yourself first."
Maltriel looks up at Angmar bearily. She blinks a few times, trying to focus her vision and ease the heavy weight of her eyelids. She is thankful that he woke her up, for her dreams had been steadily taking an ill turn, as they always did when she was coming down from her drug-enduced high. She pulls herself up into a sitting position, stifles a yawn with her hand and stares blankly into space a few seconds... willing her feelings of exhaustion to leave.
Then she looks to Angmar and smiles, taking his hand.
"Good morning, my lord."
She gets to her feet and stretches. The exhaustion is leaving her, but she feels a little queasy. Even though she believes herself to be betrothed to Angmar, Maltriel cannot remember their previous relationship and he still seems largely a stranger to her. Therefore, she desires greatly to make the right impression upon him and tries to hide her "illnesses" from him and appear strong, not like a weak and sickly little girl.
"Did I talk in my sleep, lord?" she asks with concern. "for I have been told that I ramble often after I have had my medicine, but I can recall little of what I said or did. I pray I did not disturb you in your work."
"Aanug tor, sharlob-izub," (Good morning, my lady) Angmar says as he takes her hand and leads her to the table in the center of the tent and helps her sit in the chair. He then sits beside her. "Here is food for you," and spread upon the table are bread, fruit, dried meat and wine.
"You ask if you talked in your sleep. You seemed to be having a pleasant dream that ended in a cruel way..... something about a fell beast.... falling to the ground. But it was a nightmare, my dear lady, I assure you. No harm will come of it."
Lomin (Maltriel's "keeper") leaves his tent and approaches Angmar's huge field tent. He tells an orc guarding the tent that he wishes to see the Morgul Lord, and after getting approval, the orc ushers him in. He bows to Angmar and Maltriel, and he receives a nod from Angmar. He is not offered a seat.
"Brosh, Lomin," Angmar says politely, as he thinks, "Disgusting, groveling fool."
"You will be riding with the lady Maltriel today. See that you take good care of her."
Lomin says, "Broshan, O Ash Bubhosh." (Greetings, O Great One) He thinks as he speaks, "Fell shade of man. Bah. It's my doom to serve you." However, he answers politely, "It shall be done as you say."
Angmar says, "The lady's cavalry company will be overjoyed to see her. You are not needed any longer. You may go." Lomin leaves with a bow, and when he leaves the tent, he sees gathering clouds in the West. Another storm is coming.
Turning back to Maltriel, Angmar asks, "Are you finished eating?"
Distant thunder is heard, but Angmar dismisses it. "A temporary thing..."
As Maltriel takes her seat, she looks up at Angmar and smiles. "Thank you, my lord." She looks at the food set before her but feels queasy.... still, she forces herself to eat, chewing only small bites and those very slowly. When her medicine wears off, she often feels nauseated..... indeed she has lost much weight since she was captured months before.
"Aye, my lord.... it only a dream. But... nay, not a nightmare...." her voice lowers to a whisper and she seems to be talking more to herself than to Angmar, "...those are dark indeed and filled with terrors unmentionable." She falls silent, her voice trailing off.
Her eyes begin to water..... oh no not this again. Angmar does not know about this..... the uncontrollable tears that come to her eyes after her medicine has completely worn off. The nausea she can handle, but the tears embarrass her for they show emotional weakness where there is none. In the past, when there was even a hint of tears in her eyes, people had been grieved, to see such a woman strong and fair as she cry. However, she had done her share of crying in secret, and even publicly, during her captivity in Mordor.
Her attention is turned to the tent-flap.... Lomin has entered. she nods at him, but avoids looking at him directly, not wanting him to see her eyes, which she is desperately trying to keep from welling up with tears.
Maltriel listens to the conversation, her head bowed. She feels miserable because she has been too sick to properly tend to her cavalry company. Lomin had to do the job that was assigned to her because most of the time she was either sound asleep or babbling senselessly. The guilt in her mind rises like water in a darkened room, and despair begins to drag her under....
She has thought for some time that her illness has been getting worse, and she fears that she will be too much longer in the circles of the world. However she does not want to die, languishing upon a death-bed, surrounded by healers desperately trying to heal her, a futile effort that comes to no avail. She would rather die gloriously in battle, not slowly waste away. A cruel doom it seems is upon her, to be an ailing woman with no memory of her past living in a time of war and destruction.
"Are you finished eating?"
Angmar's words break Maltriel out of her
despairing thoughts. She looks up at him, forcing herself to smile.
It looks sincere, but lately her abilities to conceal her emotions
from all but the most observant eye have been waning. "Yes,
my lord.... the food was good, but I fear I am not very hungry...
for soon we will be breaking camp, and we must get ready."
Angmar thinks, "Simpleton, just picks at her food. Perhaps I have given her a bit too much of the medicine she craves and it has taken her appetite. Next we will have to feed her by force with a tube down her scrawny throat. I swear by Melkor himself, she will live to suffer the final humiliation!"
To her he says, "Ah my dear Lady Maltriel, have the nightmares taken away your appetite? That is such a shame. You will waste to nothing. You must try to eat more."
He thinks to himself, "Hated woman. How I would like to see her mangled corpse lying dead before me. Next we will have to tie her upon her horse."
"My lady, I must leave you for now. There is business to which I must attend. I trust you do not need help with your chainmail. When you are fully prepared, your horse will be brought to you. Would you like your medicine now?"
Outside trumpets blare and drums beat. The advanced portion of the army is on the march. Though its numbers are huge still, the army was much depleted by the fighting at Pelenor. The Mumakil that did not die at Pelenor are in no condition to travel now. Many orcs and men have deserted. Many of the siege towers were damaged and destroyed, but yet it is considered that there will be more than enough to handle anything ahead of them.
Her cavalry company and Lomin wait for her. He tells them, "Wipe those stupid smirks off your faces, men! Your commander arrives soon. Show proper respect!" Though they try hard, many of them still smirk. He thinks of the irony of this, the disgraced White Lady riding with the army of Mordor. "Ah well, it is her appointed doom, and nothing can be done about that."
A few gentle drops of rain begin to fall as the army marches out. As the first drops of rain splatter upon his mail, he thinks of doom and fate, and wonders who is the one who determines it. He thinks of the story of Turin Turmabar. "The doom is not in her name but in herself. Accursed woman, born under a fell star."
"My lady, I must leave you for now," says Lord Angmar. "There is business to which I must attend. I trust you do not need help with your chainmail. When you are fully prepared, your horse will be brought to you. Would you like your medicine now?"
She looks up at him..... a kingly figure of power robed in black. "your absence grieves me, my lord, and I will look forward to when I shall see you again."
Oh! and a choice is laid before her.... a vital decsion to be made. if she takes her medicine now, soon she will be in no fit shape to ride or do much of anything else.... but she feels sick and weak without it. a compromise seems to be the best choice in the matter...
"Perhaps, my lord, could I only take half of the usual amount? That way my pain would be eased and I would be much clearer of mind." Her own suggestion brings her pain, for her body craves the medicine in stronger and stronger doses.... it is her "Ring," and very precious to her.
She hears the sound of approaching thunder.... it sounds like the march today will be prove to be quite wet.
Maltriel waits for Angmar to rise from the table first. After he leaves, she prepares herself for the march.... She exits the tent clad in sable as the night, her apperance that of the cavalry host of mordor.
She sees the cavalry company before her.... some have smirks on their faces that they try desperately to hide. A few quiet giggles escape from the ranks. She frowns, wondering just what is so funny.
A few drops of rain tinkle against the dark helm upon her head.
Angmar is in no mood to be anything more than civil with the woman this morning. "So she wants less medicine today, does she? Then I will give her less medicine!" He prepares a goblet of wine for her, but with less of the poppy powder than before. He watches her as she drinks it.
"Fair Maltriel, your choice of less medicine is a wise one. The air and being out upon a horse again will be more than a sufficient restorative of your health. The foul vapors that have plagued you will surely be lessened." He can barely stifle a laugh as he says this, but he worries about the weather no less. He thinks, "Perhaps just a small storm, no bother really, unless......can they blow away the protective cloud covering from Mordor that has sheltered the army? If the rain were to stop and that happened, then the sun would shine and the orcs would be blinded. Khamul and the others will be disoriented, as they always are when they are unfortunate enough to encounter rain."
"Fair one, now I must leave you. My heart is saddened at our separation." "Stupid woman!" he thinks. "She is really little sport at all, and I would not trouble with her were it not for the fact that she dared try to kill me and I must have my revenge. Lord Sauron has allowed me this."
"Now if I may kiss your lovely hand before I go, I will try to content myself with that until I see you again." He thinks, "The odious feel of human flesh is much better when it is on the receiving end of a sword. My sword is hungry for her blood, but that will wait. Yes, that will wait." He kisses her hand, then bows to her, turns and walks out the tent.
Lomin bows to Maltriel as she approaches him, and offers to assist her upon her horse. "I wonder if she can ride today, or will she fall off, as I have heard she has done many times before." She accepts his offer of help. He watches as she totters in the saddle. "Perhaps we should have brought cords to bind her to the horse. I do not know how long she can go like this."
"My Lady Captain," he chokes as he says the words, "You do not look too well. Perhaps I should command the company today," and not waiting for her reply, he gives orders to the cavalry company in a language that Maltriel cannot understand, and they set off.
By noon, the rain falls in curtains of water and the winds have whipped to a fury. Lomin thinks that Maltriel makes a comical sight as she totters back and forth on her horse through the rain. "The Shieldmaiden of Rohan soon will look like a drowned rat."
Shapes in the darkness began to blur and Arda began to tilt as Maltriel staggered towards her horse. her medicine was quickly taking effect. Through the mirk she sees Lomin approach her and bow. He offers to assist her in mounting her horse. She accepts his offer, being too befuddled to protest. It was a good thing too, for she lists precariously in the saddle and almost slides off the other side the moment she gets on. She gasps and grips the pommel tightly, readjusting herself into the proper position. She giggles stupidly, vaguely aware of raindrops falling upon her.
"My Lady Captain," Lomin chokes as he says the words, "You do not look too well. Perhaps I should command the company today," and not waiting for her reply, he gives orders to the cavalry company in a language that Maltriel cannot understand, and they set off.
Lomin has just said something to her - what was it? It takes a few seconds before the meaning of the words come through. "Oh!" she exclaims, readjusting herself in the saddle, "onward, men!" she groggily maneuvers her horse so it is beside Lomin's. she turns to him and says softly, "thank you, lomin..." she sighs. "I often feel that I am shirking from my duties and this feeling I despise, even if my ill health make it unavoidable."
Maltriel falls silent after a few minutes, drifting into peaceful oblivion. Did her helm suddenly gain weight? It weights down her head, which soon droops to her chest. Her body slumps forward but she has enough sense left to pull herself back just in time. She looks around with a slightly embarrassed look on her face, hoping no one saw that. Soon she relaxes again, her eyes fluttering open and closed, as she passes in and out of blissful daydreams... occasionally mumbling something incomprehensible.
Time passes. the gentle drops of rain turn into blinding torrents. angry raindrops pelt Maltriel, and she is shaken out of the oblivion that she has been riding in since dawn. She readjusts herself in her saddle... the cool water seems to chill her to the bone. She is wet and miserable. Oh how she wishes that she had taken all of her medicine, and not the reduced dose. then she wouldn't notice the rain at all, for it would seem to her that she was completely beyond the circles of the world, dancing in the heavens with the stars. one more bruise from falling off her horse wouldn't matter that much anyway.... She shivers and surveys her surroundings, what she can see of them through the blinding rain, that is.
Lomin replies, "My lady, I understand that you have been ill and while you are recuperating, you should not tax yourself with command of your company until you feel better. Besides, some of our men do not understand Common Speech, and I must give them orders in our own language."
Throughout the morning, the Army of Mordor is lashed by winds that are furious and unrelenting. Water runs across the road in blinding sheets, and many of the proud banners soon droop with sodden weight.
Conversation is scant except for the orders that Lomin gives to the company. He scarcely acknowledges Maltriel as she rides beside him. She is but a burden to him, and he is her unwilling protector, but duty is duty and he will see it through until the last. When Maltriel asks if he has her medicine, he tells her, "You do not need it now. Wait until later," and so she waits the remainder of the day without her medicine.
By noontime, many of the wains bearing supplies and equipment bog down in the mire, and the few remaining trolls of the army are taxed to pull them through the mud pits that have developed. Oxen are also used as beasts of burden, but their drivers become angry at them and lash them. Many of the beasts sink in mute despair into the mud.
Late in the afternoon, the army is ordered to halt for the day, but the camp will be a cheerless one tonight, as no fire is possible for many. After dismounting their horses, Lomin escorts Maltriel to Lord Angmar's tent, where she will receive her evening meal and her "medicine."
Just at the end of the day, the rains relent and finally halt. As Arien sets into the western horizon, she rekindles the light of the day, and then to his horror, Lomin sees that the last shreds of the dark, protecting cloud of Mordor have vanished with her smile.
Through the whole day, Maltriel rides on her horse through the blinding rain.... mostly in silence. Her blissful daydreams comfort her, but around noon her medicine completely wears off.... an hour or so later, she fills nauseated and her eyes begin to fill with tears, part of the usual malady. Part of her actually has a slight feeling of gratitude towards the weather, for she can let the tears flow down her face freely and fear no shame. Her face is already wet from the rain, and visibility is limited in the gray torrents coming from the sky. also, a helm can conceal a lot ....
She turns to Lomin and yells over the sound of the storm, "I fear my illness is returning and I have need of my medicine!"
"You do not need it now. Wait until later," comes his response.
"But, but... I am sick, and desperately in need of help!" but a crash of thunder drowns out her words. She discovers her pleas are to no avail.... she must endure without her medicine until it is deemed fit. She falls silent and sulks in the saddle.
Maltriel feels sick and ill, and utterly, thoroughly, wretched. A chill spreads through her body and she fears she is feverish. Still the army marches on through the cruel deluge, the pace slowed by the road which has turned into a brown sea of mud, churned by the plodding feet of horses, orcs, men and trolls and the wheels of heavily-laden wains, siege towers and the engines of war.
By late afternoon feelings of inexplicable fear begin to descend upon her.... with each crack of thunder, she feels as though the wicked, angry gods are coming from the West to drag her away. she shudders and looks around, feeling like a hunted animal. Her body tenses and twitches but she attempts to control her convlusions.
Finally the army stops and begins to set up camp... everyone is drenched to the bone and covered in mud. soon it is evening and the rain stops... Maltriel looks to the west and sees the sunset.... a thoroughly miserable day ends on a fairly pleasant note, or so she thinks. At least something of beauty to break the monotony of the muddy road and the seemingly endless downpour from the heavens.
She goes with Lomin to Angmar's tent.
Evening of June 1, 3019
Maltriel goes with Lomin to Angmar's tent. Lomin says, "My lady, a wretched ride through the rain. If all goes well, we will set out an hour before dawn. Just watch the step and the ditches around the tent. Wouldn't it be a pity if you fell in one of the ditches! Now I bid you goodnight." He bows and leaves.
The tent has an elevated floor resting on a wooden frame so that the floor will not be covered in water. Angmar detests water, though he does not fear it. Angmar sits at his field table, a huge thing that must be carted with them wherever they go, more for the sake of vanity than anything.
Angmar greets Maltriel, "My lady, broshan. It is indeed unfortunate that your page Ashgaz ran away and deserted the army. May he be accursed forever for this deed! Go now to the curtained section that I had prepared for you in my tent, take off your armor and put on something more suitable." He can barely contain the sarcasm in his voice. "I will order your armor to be taken and cleaned. It will be ready for you in the morning when you ride out. When you are ready, you can dine and then have your medicine."
In the curtained recess in the tent, there are a table; a small cot; and a small chest. On the table are a basin and a jug with water in it, some towels and a lit candle in a holder. Maltriel's few possessions are stored in the small traveling chest. On the cot is a sable dress that he favors seeing her wear.
While she is changing, a servant, dark and swarthy, enters, bows and sets a tray with food and wine upon Angmar's table. Angmar nods at him as the servant bows again, and leaves silently.
These thoughts go through Angmar's mind. "My gracious Master has allowed me my revenge upon the wretched woman, and soon I will be rid of her!" A strange thought suddenly enters his mind, dredged somewhere from the forgotten recesses of memory. "Another woman.... dark hair... What was her name? Zimra..... I think. She talked of nothing but my Ring, suspecting it of some evil. She said that it made me greedy and I used it for power and victory over enemies. She hated the Ring and Lord Annatar, Who gave it to me. She said that He took it from the Elves..... She even threatened to tell her friends, Elves formerly of Eregion, about it..... She was an Elf-friend, curse them all! Did I kill her, so long ago? No, another rid me of her.... She poisoned my wife at my bidding with the poison I made for that purpose, and then when my wife did not die quickly enough, the other woman strangled her. What was her name..... Zimanbalak? After a year, I made her my queen. Why do I remember these things now, at all times? But more importantly, why does my Master allow me to remember this?"
He hears Maltriel come out of the curtained section. His voice is a hiss as he says, "My dear, you look lovely tonight. Pray, eat, and then I will give you your medicine." He pulls out a chair for her and helps her seat herself, and then ignores her. "Sorry, my lady, there are grave matters upon my mind tonight. Some reorganization of the army is necessary. The wicked storm from the West today has robbed us of the benevolent covering that the Master sent to protect us. Some of our stalwarts cannot abide the touch of the hated Arien. Part of the army must march tonight after they have rested a while. Expect many of my captains to confer with me, so you should go to bed early. You will lead your company tomorrow away from the army to scout. It is very important for you to do this. You are such a good leader...." he manages to control his urge to laugh.
There are more serious concerns on Angmar's mind than his own personal revenge against the lady of Rohan. He can detect with his many heightened senses that there is great fear in the camp.... Reports have come to him that there is growing talk among the superstitious orcs of the fearful vision that they heard Number Two had at the Firien Woods.... and now the storm from the West has blown away the protective cover. An ill omen, some say. Many will use the cover of darkness and the confusion of the army reorganization as the opportunity to slip away, to desert and forage in Rohan. Angmar, however, knows that soon enough Orodurin will produce another cloud of smoke and fume which will be borne upon a wind from the Southeast.
The poppy draught he gives Maltriel later that evening after she has eaten will be a strong one, but not enough to keep her from riding in the morning. "Perhaps," he thinks, "soon to her doom and I will be rid of her....."
Never before has Maltriel seen a sunset
undaunted by the reek of Mordor's fumes, and now all the sky is
ablaze as the sun goes down in the West. She stares at it a few
seconds in awe, the new emergence of pure light somehow calming
her anxiety. She bids Lomin good evening and enters Angmar's tent,
paying heed to his word and avoiding the ditch.
She sees Angmar sitting at his magnificent table. She smiles at him, then bows cordially... her joy to see him once more makes her forget her sickness for a while.
"My lady, broshan," greets Lord Angmar. "It is indeed unfortunate that your page Ashgaz ran away and deserted the army. May he be accursed forever for this deed!"
"Aye, my lord, 'tis a pity that our own people turn against us so. doubtless our enemies would love that. however, I have no recollection of the most unfortunate day when Ashgaz deserted... when I try to bring it back to memory, nothing happens and my mind is empty and dark." She sighs.... she cannot remember at all anything of her distant past. her memory begins back at Lugburz when she saw Angmar again for the first time, but even those memories are becoming vague and hazy.
"Go now to the curtained section that I had prepared for you in my tent, take off your armor and put on something more suitable." He can barely contain the sarcasm in his voice. "I will order your armor to be taken and cleaned. It will be ready for you in the morning when you ride out. When you are ready, you can dine and then have your medicine."
"Thank you, my lord. Indeed, I will be glad to get out of these wet things! a miserable day it was, marching in the blinding torrents." She walks over to the curtained section of the tent, drawing the dark curtain closed behind her.
She starts the slow process of taking off her drenched armor and clothing, cleaning flecks of mud off her skin, patting her hair dry and making herself presentable to Angmar whom she holds most dear. After putting on the sable dress, she attempts to run her brush through her damp hair, trying to tame some of its tangles. She looks at herself in the mirror... the dark of her dress causing her pale skin to glow in the flickering amber light of the candle. Her face touched with weariness from the withdrawal illness, she almost resembles a wraith more than a living woman of flesh and blood.
Maltriel tries to think of their past...
how Angmar and she first met... when they fell in love... how
the war began... the man named Merry who tried to poison her and
how she almost died... but her mind hits a wall around which there
is no way, and it is impenetrable by her will. But she tries not
to worry about such things, for there is nothing she can do about
them, and trying to figure them out only causes her more confusion.
Exiting the curtained section, she sees the meal prepared for her upon the large table. "My dear, you look lovely tonight. Pray, eat, and then I will give you your medicine."
Maltriel can't help but beam at what she considers his sincere compliment... a faint rosy color coming to her pale cheeks. "Thank you my lord." She walks to the table and he helps her get seated. she tries to talk to him a bit, but he seems silent and brooding. Deciding that he must have something on his mind, she gives up and begins eating her food. Her stomach still gives her troubles, and she feels weak and sickly, but the excitement of seeing her lord again makes her forget her woes.
After a while, Angmar says, "Sorry, my lady, there are grave matters upon my mind tonight. Some reorganization of the army is necessary. The wicked storm from the West today has robbed us of the benevolent covering that the Master sent to protect us. Some of our stalwarts cannot abide the touch of the hated Arien. Part of the army must march tonight after they have rested a while."
Maltriel frowns... feeling guilty. Arien
was the name of the Sun, so Angmar said. She had never seen the
Sun in all her glory, and couldn't help but be in awe of the small
light the clear sunset provided. But the Valar, the Sun and the
West and all they stood for were evil and the power of Mordor
was good... She must master her feelings and remember that, or
fall in thralldom to evil forces of the West, like her page Ashgaz
"I understand, my lord," says Maltriel. "You must give the greatest part of your thought to matters concerning the army and of the protection of the free lands of the East. It is a most honorable and admirable quality, which you have the good fortune to be blessed with. Aye, curse Arien to darkness and despair, to attempt to stall the glorious armies of Mordor and hinder the power of the most kind and benevolent Lord Sauron the Great."
"Expect many of my captains to confer with me, so you should go to bed early. You will lead your company tomorrow away from the army to scout. It is very important for you to do this. You are such a good leader...."
"Yes, I think I shall go to bed early to-night, for I am weary from the march, and I fear the cold rain has weakened me. so I shall be scouting in the morrow? I shall be eager for this mission, whether I be ill or no. but as to me being a good leader?" she smiles grimly, "Surely you jest. If I were well, aye, I would hope so, but I fear most times I do not have the wits about me to lead the men. What a good fortune it is to have Lomin, who helps me with my duties any way that he can."
She talks to him some more, making light conversation... Finally she finishes her meal, and takes her medicine. She eagerly awaits for its effects to take hold upon her, and she will feel well once again, and not cold with icy chills, the foul hands of despair and anxiety clinging to her heart.
After bidding Angmar a very pleasant good night, she goes to her cot and falls upon it, soon slipping into a very deep slumber... dreaming forbidden dreams of more golden sunsets after the fury of the heavens has passed its course. From beyond the curtained section, Angmar hears the soft sound of Maltriel snoring...
Two Hours Before Dawn, June 2, 3019
When Maltriel awakes in the morning, she finds her armor cleaned and ready for her. When she comes out of her quarters, Angmar greets her with, "Aanug tor, sharlob-izub." (Good morning, my lady) "You look well today. Come now and seat at the table. My servants will bring food for you soon. I must go outside for a while and talk certain matters over with my captains, but I will be back soon."
He does not come back until after she has finished eating. After returning, he prepares the medicine for her, filled this time with even greater potions of bewitchment, but much less of the poppies. He pours her a glass of wine from the bottle on the table and adds the potion to it. He pours himself wine from another bottle, the contents of which she cannot see for the darkness of the container. He then sits down beside her and takes one of her hands in his.
"My lady, though I would like to tarry with you, you know that I cannot, for neither you nor I can call our time our own." He gazes intently into her eyes, exerting the power of his will upon her.
Knowing that her mind is totally under his great powers of enchantment and her body under dependency to her medicine, he says convincingly, as he can, "Though I never wished you to don armor and ride off to war, I cannot deny your requests." His voice is persuasive and low. "My sympathies are with you and I know you wish to avenge the death of your uncle who died by the hands of the Horse Lords. I do not yet know if you understand the seriousness of what you are doing, but it is serious business indeed, and a very dangerous one, too. We have reports that there are companies of Rohirrim not too far from our location. They are too close to us on their spying missions, but do not fear to engage them in combat, for they are cowards, and will soon retreat..."
His grasp upon her hand tightens, and his features appear to Maltriel to be that of gentleness, kindness and concern. His face seems to her that of Aragorn, whom she first loved.
"There is always the possibility that some of us might not return... Let us, however, be ever mindful that we fight the fight against the dark powers of the West, who, if they triumph in this war, will cover Middle Earth with darkness and despair! Should we perish, let our deaths then be not in vain for we serve the just Master, Sauron the Great, who ever works only for the good of all."
"Now let us drink a toast to success of our armies. To Mordor! To vengance! To the shedding of much blood of our enemies! To the conquest of all!" He drinks from his goblet and watches as she drinks from hers. The wine is strangely cold upon Maltriel's lips. Upon drinking it, Maltriel will find herself more deceived and more believing that she would grieve herself to death out of love of Angmar should they be separated. To himself, he drinks his own toast, "To farewell, to goodbyes, to death and wailing, to destruction. Farewell, Maltriel!"
Finishing his drink and waiting for her to finish hers, he stands up and beckons for her to do so, too. "A kiss for good luck and good fortune!" He puts his arms around her waist and draws her close to him and kisses her long and passionately, the kiss ending with his lips lingering on hers. He holds her in his arms for yet a while. "We part reluctantly, my lady.... very reluctantly. May you return quickly to me tonight!"
He thinks, "Farewell, Lady Maltriel. Farewell!"
Lomin waits with his company. He knows exactly what he is to do, should they contact any of the riders from Rohan. "May they kill her quickly!" he thinks to himself.
Two Hours Before Dawn, June 2, 3019
Cold walls of stone. water oozes down them. A foul stench fills the air, of disease and rotting things. all is dark but beyond the darkness grows a Fire. The flames lick the corners of her mind and threaten to encompass it, consuming it in the blaze. It is coming for her, creeping through the darkness. Her breathing is rapid, her heart pounds in her chest. Her back grates up against the damp wall as she presses herself into it, trying to escape the Flame that comes for her. Eyes wide with terror, she slides down the wall and grovels on the filthy floor in madness and fear.
But the damp wall gives way to fabric, and Maltriel finds herself back in her little cot in Angmar's tent. Breathing hard, she throws off the covers she had stacked upon herself. Blearily, she looks around the dark tent, forcing herself to fully wake up. It was just a dream.... a nightmare. Her dreams always took an evil turn when her medicine was wearing off. it would not be long before she started feeling weak and ill. She sighs and shakes off the foul memories of the dream, forcing it far from her mind.
After getting up and stretching, Maltriel changes out of the black dress which she slept in, and puts on on her sable tunic and leggings. Always dark are her clothes, but she has never thought anything of it. Looking to her table, she sees that her armor has been cleaned and laid beside it. She begins the long process of putting on all her armor, hoping that today would not be as wet and miserable as the day before.
Maltriel moves the curtain away and steps out into the other part of the tent, holding her helm in her hands. the sight of Lord Angmar causes her to smile and she bows before him. She forgets all her troubles.
"Aanug tor, sharlob-izub. You look well today. Come now and seat at the table. My servants will bring food for you soon."
"Aanug tor u lat my lord," she says brightly, attempting to speak the dark language. Lord Angmar helps her get seated. She places her helm on the floor beside her chair.
"I must go outside for a while and talk certain matters over with my captains, but I will be back soon."
She sighs. "Very well, mi'lord. I eagerly await your return." Always, always, is his time with her too short. She feels slightly disappointed, but she knows that matters of the war have preference over her.... over everything. In fact, she would scold Angmar if his thoughts went to her first rather than the plight of the Free People of the East and Lord Sauron's war to protect them from the West. But just once she would like to attend Angmar's meetings with his captains, instead of being consigned to waiting for him or reclining in a state of bemusement someplace. she watches him go, her eyes following his every move.
When the servants bring her food, she eats in the silence of the tent, wishing Angmar were with her. he does not come back to her quickly, and she must finish breakfast alone.
Soon enough he comes back, and begins to prepare a special potion for her medicine today. As always, she studies his every movement, the sound of heavy boots upon the floor, the swish of a dark cape. he adds the potion to her glass of wine and sits down beside her. He takes her hand in his. she turns to him, smiling.
"My lady, though I would like to tarry with you, you know that I cannot, for neither you nor I can call our time our own." He gazes intently into her eyes, exerting the power of his will upon her.
Maltriel returns Angmar's gaze, looking into what she perceives are sea-grey eyes, her own filled with longing, both to be by his side and him by hers. She does not challenge his will, being almost completely in his power. Long does she look into the dragon's eyes, forgetting the world around her. nothing else exists; it is just them and this moment. She sits there in silence listening to him, his voice low and persuasive, words flowing like honey.
"Though I never wished you to don armor and ride off to war, I cannot deny your requests. My sympathies are with you and I know you wish to avenge the death of your uncle who died by the hands of the Horse Lords. I do not yet know if you understand the seriousness of what you are doing, but it is serious business indeed, and a very dangerous one, too. We have reports that there are companies of Rohirrim not too far from our location. They are too close to us on their spying missions, but do not fear to engage them in combat, for they are cowards, and will soon retreat..."
He pauses, and she feels his grip around her hand tighten. his face is gentle and kind she knows he fears for her safety. "Aye, my lord, my uncle's death grieves me greatly, though I remember him naught of him, nor of any of my kin. I pray you not have greater fear for my sake than you do for the men, for though I be not a man, I feel I am capable of achieving their accomplishments." She pauses. "if I were not ill, that is," she glumly thinks to herself.
Angmar continues, "There is always the possibility that some of us might not return... Let us, however, be ever mindful that we fight the fight against the dark powers of the West, who, if they triumph in this war, will cover Middle Earth with darkness and despair! Should we perish, let our deaths then be not in vain for we serve the just Master, Sauron the Great, who ever works only for the good of all."
"Though the enemy may be fearsome, I will strive to be brave, though I wish you were by my side. Not because I am afraid, no, never, for though I have never faced them, I do not feel I would fear our enemies. if you went with me into battle, we could win honor and glory together, and our deeds would be spoken of in song in long years to come. If we were to die, it would never be in vain, for we would be dying for Lord Sauron, Mordor and the Free People of the East. I shall always fight, and perhaps die, for the land, people and the man I love." She blushes slightly when she says, "the man I love."
"Now let us drink a toast to success of our armies. To Mordor! To vengeance! To the shedding of much blood of our enemies! To the conquest of all!"
"Aye, my lord! to Mordor and its success and victory! ...and if we do all perish in death, at least we will be free for ever from the fell and evil forces which threaten us." she trails off, thinking of her illness more than she does the enemy. The thought of dying in battle does not scare her as much as slowly wasting away, imprisoned by healers, her condition steadily becoming worse, with no hope of recovery.
She drinks her wine and watches as he drinks his. The wine, usually warm and sweet, is cold upon her lips. she shivers slightly. the room seems to tilt and swirl and her vision blurs. Everything seems to recede, and she focuses her vision upon Lord Angmar, a pillar of strength, who seems, to her, to shine with great power. She feels more in love with him than ever, and a fear of being separated from him grows in her mind. he was everything to her, her one, her only, all she needed in life, and she could not live without him. Life would not be worth living, to endure in emptiness, lonely and forlorn, without his love, without him by her side. but she fears that her story will indeed be tragic, for she will succumb to her illness eventually, dying and fading into only memory. So little time to spend with her beloved, so little time, and what little time there was wasted by illness...
Angmar finishes his wine and stands up. Maltriel looks up at him and does likewise. "A kiss for good luck and good fortune!" he says.
She moves towards him and he takes her in his arms, drawing her close to him. She lightly places her hand on his shoulder, and caresses the side of his face with her other hand while they kiss. They kiss long and passionately, a sense of desperation in her kiss, the fear of being parted from him. tears push slightly at the insides of her closed eyelids. Though it seems to last forever, the kiss finally ends. His lips linger upon hers. She opens her eyes and blinks, trying not to weep at their parting, for somehow it feels to be their last.
"We part reluctantly, my lady.... very reluctantly. May you return quickly to me tonight!"
She says sadly, "That we do, most dear to my heart. most painful is our parting today, though we have often parted in the past, and many days have I seen you not. It is my most urgent and disparate hope that I shall return to you. For great is my love for you, Angmar, and so it shall always be."
She bends down and picks up her helm, putting it on her head. Her hair is tied up loosely, and a few stray tendrils of her golden tresses peep from behind its dark confines. She looks at Angmar for in silence, her gaze long and sad. Then she sighs and turns to leave.
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