The Interrogation of Neithan
Neithan: *It is the morning of
March 26. Neithan has been taken to the infamous dungeon at Minas
Morgul. Metal cuffs are about his wrists and he hangs suspended
by chains. His back bloodied by the whippings of the orcs, he
is weak but still resolute*
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz walks into the dungeon having received orders to interrogate Neithan*
Neithan: *Neithan groans*
Ashgaz: *He sees the unexpected sight of Neithan hanging between two orcs and one has a whip*
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz addresses the orcs* What is this??? I did not give you orders to whip him!
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz' eyes glow red and the orcs quail*
Neithan: *The orcs bow before him and say* Do not hurt us, master! Do not hurt us!
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz controls his wrath and does not strike them with Black Breath, but does strike them with terror*
Neithan: *Ashgaz, now the master of Minas Morgul, though on a temprary basis*
Ashgaz: *To the orcs* Get out of here!
Neithan: *The orcs tremble and ask to be dismissed*
Ashgaz: Out of my sight before you anger me further!
Neithan: *They leave at his voice, bowing constantly as they scurry out*
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz shakes his head as the orcs leave*
Neithan: *Neithan rallies up at the sound and says* Another one of you fiends come to torment me!
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz has been wracked with guilt since he entered the room*
Neithan: Can you never get enough of this, you evil brutes!
Ashgaz: *He says gently* No, I am not going to hurt you.
Neithan: Ah, saving me for the orc's pot then!
Ashgaz: Those orcs disobeyed me. I did not order them to beat you!
Ashgaz: You have done nothing wrong.
Ashgaz: You do not deserve to be punished.
Ashgaz: I have only come to ask you some questions.
Neithan: If I did wrong, it was that I was fool enough to help that lady get back to her accomplices in evil
Ashgaz: No, you have not done anything wrong.
Neithan: *he lunges against his chains* If you do not have such cowardness, you would fight me now!
Ashgaz: *raises his eyebrows*
Ashgaz: That would be futile, for you can do nothing against me
Neithan: *most of the signs of madness seem to have left him*
Ashgaz: I am no longer in your world. I am a wraith.
Neithan: I would strangle you by your scrawny neck if I could
Neithan: Fiend of Mordor!
Neithan: But turn me loose and give me a sword and I will die giving it a try!
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz is stricken dumb for a moment as he realizes that Neithan is right*
Neithan: Thrall of the enemy!
Ashgaz: *He wishes Niethen did have a blade of Westernesse*
Neithan: Take my challenge then
Neithan: Coward! Coward!
Ashgaz: It would be useless for us to fight.
Neithan: Let me die as a man of Gondor and not as a beast in chains!
Ashgaz: You would only come to greater harm and you would do nothing to me.
Ashgaz: You aren't going to die
Ashgaz: not if I can help it
Neithan: Coward, then let us see what I could do to you. Release me from these bonds
Neithan: Then let us fight man to man, or whatever you are
Ashgaz: You do not know it, but you have already fought me and come to grief for it
Ashgaz: When you rushed against the orcs, you struck me
Neithan: I am not afraid of coming to grief at your hands, foul spirit
Ashgaz: I was invisible at that time
Neithan: Your voice does sound familiar
Neithan: But then I thought you were Vorondil
Ashgaz: But your blow did me no harm; it only gave you the sickness that troubles you now.
Neithan: Can you rid me of the sickness that makes my arm numb?
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz searches his memory*
Ashgaz: *He seems to remember Khamul once telling him about a potion that could cure the Black Breath*
Ashgaz: *He calls an orc back*
Neithan: *Neithan sags down in the chains that hold him but he looks at the wraith in defiance*
Ashgaz: *To the orc* Bring me the yellow potion in the bottle marked with a Y.
Neithan: What do you plan to do with me, Evil spirit?
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz sighs with pity*
Neithan: *Fortunately, the orc knows where Khamul keeps his potions in Minas Morgul*
Ashgaz: What do I plan to do with you?
Ashgaz: I plan to do nothing but ask you some questions.
Neithan: Kill me, I suppose
Ashgaz: No, you are lucky
Neithan: Then ask them and torment me no more
Ashgaz: You are dealing with the worst of Sauron's wraiths
Neithan: Lucky? How am I lucky?
Ashgaz: Any other would torment you and enjoy it.
Neithan: Even the worst of the wraiths of the Namless Enemy is a fearsome sight
Neithan: Do you not enjoy the torture that the orcs deal out so ruthlessly?
Ashgaz: *shakes his head* No!
Ashgaz: I hate it.
Neithan: I thought that is what you had come to do to me
Ashgaz: I'm not supposed to but I do hate it.
Neithan: I will answer your questions gladly
Neithan: You hate it? You foul fiend in the employ of the Nameless One!
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz leans against the wall shaking*
Neithan: *Neithan concludes that he is too weak to fight much of anything right now, but his spirit is now resolute. He never expected to go back alive*
Ashgaz: I suppose you're right...I suppose I am a foul fiend
Neithan: Will you believe me if I tell you I know nothing?
Neithan: But I swear this. I know nothing
Ashgaz: *He is now in a dilemma*
Ashgaz: *Any prisoner would say they know nothing, even Ashgaz knows that*
Neithan: I will tell you this, fiend, and tell your Master
Neithan: Last year in June, I was at the bridge of Osgiliath when the evil one that you call lord passed over
Ashgaz: *But then Ashgaz remember Neithan's madness--he would be useless to the West's army. His only asset to them is courage.*
Ashgaz: *listens intently*
Ashgaz: Go on.
Neithan: Then in the blackness that enveloped the Evil King, we all became confused
Neithan: He appeared to us as a horseman on a great dark horse, foul
Neithan: I had just knocked an arrow into the bowstring
Ashgaz: *His mind goes back to the Black Riders in the Shire*
Neithan: I set it free, but my mark was amiss in my blind panic
Neithan: The arrow found Hallas, with whom I had disagreement
Neithan: The penalty of killing another soldier was death
Neithan: Then when Vorondil, my captain, tried to lay hands upon me, I fought him and killed him too, and yet another
Neithan: I fled in fear from my life and wandered in the wilderness until at last I came to Amon Hen and made my home
Neithan: There I found the woman and offered her my help
Neithan: And what do I get in return? Torture
Ashgaz: *Having never heard the full story before, Ashgaz is overcome with sympathy*
Ashgaz: You should not have been tortured.
Ashgaz: I expressly forbade the orcs to lay hands on you.
Neithan: I helped her, I took my boat and she went with me down the Anduin
Ashgaz: They are under my command. They will be reprimanded.
Ashgaz: I know
Neithan: Then if they are under your command, tell them to free me
Neithan: I know nothing, only what I told you, for I have not been in the army since last June
Ashgaz: *Can he do it? Can he release a prisoner of Mordor? What will they do to him when he returns?*
Ashgaz: *But is that really more important than this man's fate?*
Neithan: What use am I to your master?
Ashgaz: *thinks* They might try to make him into a thrall...
Ashgaz: *Thinks* But I could not bear that
Neithan: Just another wretched captive in your dungeon
Ashgaz: *after a pause* I believe you.
Ashgaz: I believe that you know nothing, and I wish I could free you
Ashgaz: But I am under the command of lords far more powerful than I
Neithan: Then turn me loose if you wish or at least take these chains off!
Ashgaz: *nods* Yes, I will take the chains off. I cannot set you free, but I will have you unchained.
Neithan: Can you not free my bleeding wrists from these bonds?
Neithan: And water, I need water
Ashgaz: *tears start to his eyes as he forces himself to look at the blood*
Ashgaz: *The orc returns with the yellow potion*
Ashgaz: *to the orc* I have another errand for you.
Ashgaz: Bring a flask of water and some meat
Neithan: *Neithan licks his lips, a sign that he is becoming dehydrated from loss of blood and lack of water*
Ashgaz: and one of your fellows to help unchain this man.
Ashgaz: And bring some ointment for his wounds.
Neithan: I would not beg you for water
Ashgaz: Hurry now.
Ashgaz: *The orc leaves*
Neithan: What I would really want is to be turned loose and given a sword
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz is overwhelmed with the horror of this situation*
Neithan: *he licks his lips again and more beads of sweat stain his already sweat stained face*
Ashgaz: *He still has the mind of a hobbit and can barely process what is happening, and what he himself is doing*
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz starts to fumble with the chains himself*
Ashgaz: *He has almost got one of the ankle chains loose when the orcs return*
Neithan: *Neithan kicks at the wraith with his free foot*
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz is physically unharmed but cringes inwardly*
Ashgaz: *The orcs unchain Neithan in no time*
Neithan: *when he is unchained, he springs for Ashgaz*
Ashgaz: *To the orcs* Stop him!
Ashgaz: *the orcs hold him back*
Ashgaz: If you do that you will make your sickness worse!
Neithan: Unloose me you fiends! Let me kill you before you kill me!
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz grabs the yellow potion*
Ashgaz: *to Neithan* Come to your senses now!
Ashgaz: I said I wouldn't hurt you!
Neithan: You have not as yet but this is probably one of your tricks
Ashgaz: And what is happening now? You're unchained, I've brought you food and water and medicine
Neithan: In the vial is probably posion!
Ashgaz: It is not a trick!
Ashgaz: I do not deal in tricks!
Neithan: *the exertion makes Neithan sag*
Ashgaz: *To the orcs* Let him go and leave, but lock the door
Ashgaz: *once the orcs are gone he turns to Neithan*
Neithan: *When they release him he drops to the floor exhausted with sweat running down his face*
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz kneels next to Neithan wishing Neithan could see his face, for it is gentle*
Neithan: *he winces at the sight of the wraith near him*
Ashgaz: You are right, I am a wraith, I am all the names you called me
Ashgaz: But I am not completely a wraith...
Neithan: And you will deal with me as the Nazgul always do to men
Ashgaz: They have not completely conquered me yet...
Ashgaz: and I hope they never will
Neithan: Then kill me now but do not touch me with your Morgul blade if you have one!
Neithan: By Elbereth!
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz moves further back*
Ashgaz: You don't understand
Neithan: *he faints*
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz kicks the wall in frustration*
Neithan: *But he fainted from loss of blood and exhaustion, not out of fear for he fears nothing now*
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz looks around the room and remembers the yellow potion*
Ashgaz: *He pries Neithan's mouth open and forces the potion down his throat*
Neithan: *he sputters as the liquid goes down his throat*
Ashgaz: *He also uses this opportunity to apply the medicine to Neithan's back before he fully regains consciousness*
Ashgaz: *As Neithan wakes up, Ashgaz moves away expecting him to lunge*
Neithan: *His strength seems to return to him as the liquid reaches his stomach*
Neithan: *when he comes to consciousness he says* My hand, my hand, it is no longer numb
Neithan: Did you do this?
Ashgaz: That is because of the potion I gave you.
Neithan: I should thank you then, but I cannot for my heart tells me that there is still evil here
Neithan: much evil, a place of sleepless malice
Ashgaz: *his voice breaks* That is because I am here
Ashgaz: I am bound to the evil you sense
Neithan: And you have water brought to me?
Neithan: I will drink it but consider me not under any bond to you or your master!
Ashgaz: No, I won't
Neithan: You must bring the water to me then, for I am now too weak to rise
Ashgaz: *lowers his voice* I would spare all I could from this fate
Ashgaz: *brings the water flask to Neithan*
Ashgaz: *lifts it to Neithan's lips*
Neithan: *he reaches for the flask*
Neithan: Let me drink it myself!
Ashgaz: *gives it to him and walks away*
Neithan: *he takes the flask and drinks it greedily*
Neithan: Now a bit of food
Neithan: Are you called by a name?
Ashgaz: *slides the plate of food over*
Neithan: *grabs the food as soon as it reaches it and eats it as a hungry dog would*
Ashgaz: Here they call me Ashgaz
Ashgaz: It means "Small One" in the common tongue
Neithan: Ashgaz, that is a name in Black Speech, an orc name
Neithan: But no matter what you are, I am grateful for this food and drink
Ashgaz: But my real name is Peter.
Neithan: So I suppose you want to keep me alive for some reason?
Ashgaz: I want to keep you alive because you don't deserve to die.
Neithan: Ah, one of the enemy wishes to keep me alive
Neithan: Then there must be some fell purpose behind it, but still, I am glad to be able to eat now
Ashgaz: *sighs* But I must consult with my commanders, and see what they want me to do.
Ashgaz: *freezes at the thought of being ordered to kill Neithan*
Neithan: *he sits with his back against the wall and wonders at what this all means*
Ashgaz: *sits against the opposite wall*
Ashgaz: Do you know what Hobbits are?
Neithan: No, I do not
Neithan: Is it another evil spirit?
Ashgaz: Hobbits are distant kin of Men, but they are very small, like me
Ashgaz: Hobbits are anything but evil
Neithan: You wear a dark cape, and I cannot see your face
Neithan: And you are in this place with a position of authority
Ashgaz: You could not see my face even if I removed my hood.
Neithan: I take that to mean that you are an evil spirit, like the dark rider that came over Osgiliath in June
Neithan: But you tell me otherwise?
Ashgaz: My body is faded. I'm invisible to everyone except those in the wraith world.
Neithan: Then you are accursed!
Ashgaz: *nods and lowers his head*
Ashgaz: But it was not my doing!
Neithan: Should I then pity you?
Ashgaz: You seem to know what a Morgul blade is...
Ashgaz: Do you know what it can do?
Neithan: It is in legend
Ashgaz: *bitterly* It is real!
Neithan: There was a king of Gondor long ago who was struck by one of these blades. He still lived but he did not reach an old age and was always in pain
Neithan: Thus I know of the Morgul blade
Ashgaz: Perhaps he became one of the Nazgul.
Ashgaz: That is what the Morgul blade does---it binds you to the Dark Lord.
Neithan: No, he did not... at least he did not have that curse upon him when he died
Ashgaz: It causes you to fade and become a wraith.
Neithan: And is that what happened to you?
Ashgaz: Ah, perhaps he was spared that fate then
Neithan: Then I pity you, Ashgaz
Neithan: Perhaps I should not, but I do
Ashgaz: *is surprised*
Neithan: But do not face me ever in a fight for I would still kill you
Neithan: You cannot help that which you do, but I will still resist it if I can
Ashgaz: I thank you for your pity
Ashgaz: But you still don't seem to understand what it is to be a wraith.
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz hugs his knees and looks up with a faraway expression*
Ashgaz: *which Neithan cannot see, of course*
Ashgaz: Less than a year ago, I was a hobbit.
Neithan: *Neithan is not afraid of him and was not even before he felt pity*
Ashgaz: I lived in the Shire--that is the hobbits' country.
Neithan: Who did this to you? What foul fiend did this so that I may curse him?
Ashgaz: You would be cursing my master
Ashgaz: He is one of the Nazgul
Neithan: You have a master too?
Neithan: By Elbereth!
Ashgaz: He and two other Nazgul invaded the Shire
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz winces*
Neithan: Those undead beings of ice
Ashgaz: I tried to drive them out
Ashgaz: It was foolish of me--one hobbit against three Nazgul!
Neithan: By all names of all the Valar in the Blessed Realm, I Hope this fiend may soon come to grief
Ashgaz: I think he has...someone has wounded him
Ashgaz: I don't know how he fares now
Neithan: Good! May he perish of his wounds
Ashgaz: It is strange...I was his page for a while...and then he did me a good turn
Neithan: What did this evil creature do that could be called "good"?
Ashgaz: I had said that name you keep calling on--it is blasphemy for us now--and I was being tortured, but Khamul interceded for me
Neithan: Your ways are strange, small master
Ashgaz: The Lord of the Nazgul freed me, but punished Khamul for disturbing him
Ashgaz: I was trying to save someone else from becoming enslaved to Mordor!
Neithan: You creatures help anyone?
Ashgaz: They think me very troublesome and incompetent there
Ashgaz: We are not supposed to help mortals but I couldn't help myself just now
Ashgaz: And even Khamul's kindness to me was considered weakness
Neithan: Then it is my hope that you will be soon freed of this curse that your evil master has laid upon you
Neithan: It would be better to dwell in the Halls of Mandos for long centuries than to be servant to the Nazgul!
Ashgaz: *fighting back tears* That is the worst of it...
Ashgaz: The spell cannot be lifted!
Ashgaz: We are neither living nor dead
Neithan: Is there no way by which it might be lifted?
Ashgaz: Well, there are certain swords called blades of Westernesse...
Ashgaz: Of all weapons, these are the only ones that can harm Nazgul.
Neithan: How can I obtain one so I might free you from this bitterness?
Ashgaz: And kill me?
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz ponders this silently*
Neithan: For you, I would rather kill you to save you from more of this world that is neither living nor dead
Ashgaz: It may come to that
Neithan: And then may Eru have mercy upon you
Ashgaz: *hugs himself, shivering*
Ashgaz: Yes, it may come to that
Ashgaz: But I do not know where to obtain one of those blades
Neithan: Your evil master rescued you from punishment put upon you by the Evil King. What had you done?
Neithan: I think the art of making them must be long forgotten
Ashgaz: I had called upon the name of your deity to save a victim of the Nazgul.
Ashgaz: That was a terrible crime to them.
Neithan: I think you would seek release from your curse but I have no means by which to deliver it
Neithan: By the blessed Elbereth?
Neithan: I shall tell you of her
Ashgaz: *Ashgaz covers his ears and wails softly in pain*
Ashgaz: No, don't!
Neithan: She put the beautiful stars in their places in the sky, and sits with her husband upon Mt. Taniquetil in Valinor. They hear the cries of those in need, even in the darkness of the Enemy
Ashgaz: That name is a torment to wraiths
Neithan: But she is kind, and good, and very wise
Neithan: And may she come with the hosts of Valinor to deliver Middle Earth from the darkness that is covering this land!
Neithan: I am sorry my words grieve you, but you are a victim of great darkness, a thrall
Neithan: What became of the other that you tried to save?
Ashgaz: She was enchanted anyway.
Ashgaz: She is a prisoner in Lugburz now.
Neithan: May she soon be released of her enchantment!
Neithan: She is to be pitied, for no one comes from there alive
Ashgaz: It is strange...part of me wants to agree with your prayers, but something commands me not to
Neithan: Tell me about this lady that you tried to help
Ashgaz: She was beautiful
Neithan: Ah, a fair one in the lair of the enemy
Ashgaz: She was from Rohan...I think they called her a Shieldmaiden
Ashgaz: I think she was called Eowyn.
Ashgaz: I only saw her once.
Neithan: Rohan is an ally of Gondor. We have been friends for many years. Rohan, the Eorlings they are called, and great horseman are they
Neithan: The White Lady of Rohan?
Ashgaz: I'm not sure
Ashgaz: but she was called Eowyn
Neithan: Theoden's niece?
Neithan: May it not be she!
Ashgaz: I don't know who Theoden is
Neithan: Theoden is king in Rohan
Ashgaz: Hobbits don't usually leave the Shire...
Ashgaz: so I'm not well traveled.
Ashgaz: The king's niece!
Neithan: Long may Theoden rule in Rohan!
Neithan: Aye, the White Lady of Rohan is indeed King Theoden's niece
Ashgaz: *again something prevents him from agreeing*
Ashgaz: No wonder they wanted her
Neithan: They have taken her captive?
Neithan: I know nothing of what happened on the battlefields, for I was not there, coward that I was
Ashgaz: Yes, the Lord of the Nazgul forced a potion down her throat, and it made her forget herself
Neithan: But what was she doing there? She is a woman, and women do not fight
Neithan: Then Rohan must have fallen too! *he sobs*
Ashgaz: Apparently the women of Rohan fight.
Neithan: You bring evil tidings, small shadow
Neithan: I would help you if I could, at least free you from the terror that must hold you, and if I could, I would slay your Fell King.
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