The Parley

By Wraith
June 12

Approaching from the staging area ten miles east of Helm's Deep and inching ever closer to the fortress, the great materiels of war had been brought forward. Trolls dragged the unassembled parts used in siege warfare to the predetermined locations. The troops on the walls could barely make out the shapes that moved before them far beyond the range of any archers.

Before the day was over, however, the sound of construction in progress and the shouts of men, orcs and beasts could be heard faintly on the wind that blew from the East. Gifted with his visual acuity, Legolas was the only one able to make out what the indistinct objects actually were. All that really could be seen by others, though, was a greater mass of seething, swelling shadow silhouetted against the murk as the Army of Mordor began to draw closer.

Then, in the closing hour of the day, all was strangely quiet, as though the air itself were alive and waiting for something to happen. And then the sound of trumpets rent the air, and those at Helm's Deep were aware that, as though drawn from the gloom itself, a small group of horsemen were approaching boldly on the road and coming into the vision of those at the Deep.

When the party of horsemen came into the range of vision, it was seen that in the front rode a figure dressed in the ebony livery of Mordor. Guiding his black steed with reins held in his left hand, he held high aloft on a staff a great white banner. The horseman called out, "We come here to parley and give our terms, so hold thy arrows!"

When their way is not contested, the horseman rides forward, and those at Helm's Deep can see behind him two other men dressed in livery identical to the first, and these two held aloft large standards in black marked with the image of the Great Eye.

The trumpets begin to sound once more, and the party presses forward. Then the three horsemen in front veer to the sides, and another one, all in black with a hood pulled low over his head and his face unseen, rides to their front. He announces in a cold, clear voice: "I am an emissary from Mordor. Is there any among thy company with the authority and intelligence to deal with me? Then, if such a one exists, I bid you send him out!"

By Wraith
June 12, an hour before nightfall
Helm's Deep

As Aragorn, Gandalf and their standard bearers approach nearer to the black messengers, the Hooded One rides his great black stallion to meet them. The horses of the West tense and fret, trembling and snorting with unease. Behind the hooded figure are the two mounted colorguards clad in the black livery of Mordor holding aloft a large standards, emblazoned with the image of the Great Eye.

Aragorn leads the group and stares with steely resolve at the hooded figure. "I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn, and King of Gondor. Who now demands terms from us?"

A cold voice answers. "Thou knowest who I am."

"Sayest thou art King of Gondor?" the Hooded One asks, then laughs, the very sound seeming to chill the bone to the marrow. "Nay. Gondor is no more, and another more worthy shall hold that place. So the kinglet comes forth to deal. I would have thought better if one with more wit and wisdom had been sent. So, kinglet, dost thou proclaim thyself also king of Rohan?" He laughs again and the horses of the West stamp their hooves nervously as their riders try to steady them.

"I see also that thou hast brought thy prop, the peeping old graybeard. No more then has come out to meet me than this! A fawning kinglet and his master," he says with icy disgust. "Is this rabble all Rohan could send forth? Where then is the king of Rohan?"

By Wraith
June 12, an hour before nightfall
Helm's Deep

Aragorn looks at the hooded figure with disgust. "Gondor remains; Gondor is not some fortress for weak-willed slaves of the enemy to occupy - Gondor is its people. I am King of Gondor and I am no man's servant. You have not conquered Gondor nor will you. Gondor stands beside Rohan and Rohan stands beside Gondor. They both stand against you. I am not intimidated by the empty shell of what was once a man, drawn in by the promises of he who now enslaves you. Know this, the West stands united as many peoples. No one man commands us out of fear and intimidation as is done in your land. You will treat with me as the King of Rohan or you will treat with no one."

The hooded figure spits out the words, "Thou art king of nothing, unless under the tutorledge of thy master thou hast usurped the throne of Rohan, bereft now of its king! Did thy teacher devise through cunning arts some spell which brought about his death, or did thou come against him in the night and slay him? What conspiracy is this?"

The dark inside of his hood begins to glow slightly with a ruddy light, the reflection of his glittering eyes.

"Petty kinglet! Thou canst do nothing without the old graybeard holding thy hand as a small child, and prompting the words come to thy ignorant mouth! Treat with thee? I might as well treat with thy master, for he is there is beside thee and he can hear the words himself. Perhaps he can explain them to thee, for thou surely hast not the knowledge to understand them thyself. But if thou wilst learn wisdom, thou wilt accept my terms."

One of his horse's forehooves begins to paw the ground, and it snorts, and some said later that the eyes of the horse itself began to reflect the fiery glow of its master's own.

By Wraith
June 12, an hour before nightfall
Helm's Deep

The hooded figure laughs as he sees Gandalf leave. "Thy master abandons thee in thy hour of trial. Even he thinks his stripling a fool and a dolt. I will not bandy words with such as thee! Here are the terms, if thou canst remember to repeat them to thy master."

He turns in the saddle and draws forth from his saddlebag a tube bearing a scroll. He turns back again, slowly unfolds the scroll and reads in a powerful, icy voice.

His eyes glittering in anger, he looks Aragorn in the face, and says, "Paraphrase this I must, for thy feeble mind cannot fathom these words otherwise.

"Rohan and the ragtag so-called army of Gondor shall throw down their arms and surrender this fortress to us at once. Then the king of Rohan, wherever he may be, must surrender and take such oaths as are duly required and swear never to take up arms against Sauron the Great ever again. All lands east of the Misty Mountains, the Gap of Rohan and south of the White Mountains shall be the realm of Mordor's for ever. Rohan will be granted leave to govern themselves, but shall be a vassal state and must pay tribute to Mordor in goods and services. The former realm of Gondor belongs to Sauron the Great for ever and all must acknowledge Him as the only King of Gondor. No person from either Gondor or Rohan is to return for a span of 20 years, and then only after pledging loyalty and taking oaths to Sauron the Great. Then tribute in goods and services shall be required of them all forevermore."

He rolls the scroll back up, puts it back in its tube and then turns once again to Aragorn.

"If thou dost not accept these terms, this means destruction of all the forces of the West, and the forfeiture of the lives of all those at Dunharrow, who shall die by either the sword or by starvation. Dost thy feeble mind comprehend the mercy and magnitude of Lord Sauron the Great? T'would be great folly to reject these most generous terms.

"What sayest thou, O puppet king?"

By Wraith
June 12, an hour before nightfall
Helm's Deep

The dark rider continues to face Aragorn. "Thou tries by thy idle words to puff thyself up and give thyself false valor. O petty kinglet, thou who desirest the throne that has been denied unto thee, dost thou dare speak to me of the maiden? Know this. She hast served her purpose well.

"Drawest thy blade against me when I come under a flag of truce! Thou baseborn son of a line of thieves! With the drawing of thy sword, thou hast condemned thyself, thy people and thy allies unto death. So let it be. Indeed, thou shalt have war." The dark rider's eyes flame into fire. With one hand, he draws back his hood, revealing a kingly crown of steel, but yet upon no head visible does it sit. With the other hand, he draws his sword and holds it aloft. Ripples of flame burst along the edges.

"Puffed up, vainglorious heir of Isildur! Thou should be slain where thou standest. Art thou so eager to die, mortal king, that thou raise thy sword against me, or dost thou make a feeble show of might? Dost thou not know that no mortal man may slay me? If thou hast learned any wisdom, mortal king, put speed to thy heels and fly!"

By Wraith
June 12, a half hour before nightfall
Helm's Deep

"Listen to me, foul servant of Sauron ! If you have brought to this parley more than false assurances and empty threats, put them forth now. You are not standing before some brigand of the hills who is stricken in fear of the sight of a ghost. I have passed through the very Paths of the Dead and commanded an army beyond your comprehension. You say you come under flag of truce? The flag of the Red Eye stands only for treachery and oppression. Know this, we will never bow down to the dark Lord of Mordor, never to his slaves. waste no more words here - your terms are utterly rejected!"

The two face each other, Aragorn with Anduril held proudly aloft, and he, the Witch-King, wielding his pale sword with flames flicking on edge. The man before Angmar was unafraid; that in itself was unusual.

He meets Aragorn's words with a mocking, hollow sounding laugh. "Thou thinkest to impress me with the boasts of thy deeds, puffed up poppet! Nay, little impresses me." He laughs again and his next words drip with venom and sarcasm. "Yea, it has been said that the lords of the West have great honor, yet under flag of truce thou dost try to threaten me? Verily, thy judgment is poor." His scornful laughter rings out, and he motions to one of the heralds who does indeed hold aloft a white banner of truce. "Of a surety then, the men of the West have fallen far."

Thinking he has struck a wound, he seeks to launch a mental attack against Aragorn and make him question himself. His will reaches out and his thoughts meet the mind of Aragorn. The man's will was strong, but Angmar knew his was stronger.

At first Aragorn wonders at the odd thoughts that begin to strike him at such a time. "Why did I go forth to Amon Hen seeking a vision. Then Boromir fell before the uruk-hai and the Halflings were taken by them. Was there anything I could have done to prevent his death?"

Sure now that his hold over Aragorn's mind and will is becoming stronger, the tentacles of the Witch-King's mind probe deeper. Angmar sees a dark-haired Elvish maiden waiting with sad, longing eyes, and he knows that this elf loves Aragorn. Yet in Aragorn's mind, he sees another, a slender blonde maiden, the White Lady of Rohan. The elf maiden with her large, luminous eyes seems to be crying now and calling Aragorn's name. Has he been unfaithful to the elf maiden in his thoughts, and has another supplanted her in his heart? Aragorn feels grief mixed with not a little guilt.

Then Aragorn lets down his guard for one second, and Angmar prepares to strike, laughing to himself. The man's mind will know pain! What does it matter if Anduril is mighty and cannot be unbroken if the hand that wields it weakens its hold on the hilt of the blade? With the force of his will, Angmar grapples with Aragorn's mind. With all the power of darkness that he can summon, he unleashes thoughts of such darkness, doubts and uncertainty to break Aragorn's will, if only for a few seconds. Then perhaps Aragorn would release the hold upon the sword and drop it. What does it matter about the sword if the master is humiliated? Would that not be final proof of the power of the Witch-King?

Keeping his eyes on Aragorn, Angmar slowly intones words from a forgotten language from long ago:

Kalab izindiô; 'nki batân lôkhî!
Bawâb 'n dolgu kalab 'nê Urî Bâr!
Azra Bâr kalab dâurada!
Zigûrun 'nki kathuphazgân!

Angmar intensifies his mental attack and Aragorn hears these words in his mind:

".....Aragorn, son of Arathorn.... Witless dreamer seeking visions..... faithless betrayer of friends...... O Boromir, O Boromir! Faithless lover... More treacherous than adders, a truce breaker.....


By Wraith
June 12, Nightfall
Helm's Deep

Holding his pale sword with flames running up and down the edges, the Witch-King of Angmar strives against the will of Aragorn. Angmar senses the feelings of guilt that come over his opponent's mind, and now he seeks to crush Aragorn's will with the acknowledgement of his own weakness.

The Witch-King is confident that one more thrust against Aragorn's mental resolve will be enough to make Aragorn drop Andril and prove the strength of his will over his opponent. Determined to humiliate him totally in front of his men and destroy their confidence, Angmar hisses out the words, "Boastful mortal! Forsooth, heir of Isildur thou art, but king of Gondor, nay! Thou art but a brigand of the North, and try to lay claim to that which was never thine. Hast thou forgotten that Isildur, King of Arnor, relinquished his claim to Gondor's throne to his brother's son Meneldil and took the throne of Arnor for himself? Thy family itself was rejected by Gondor as being unworthy to rule! Was not the claim of Arvedui of the North Kingdom rejected by the Council of Gondor as invalid? Arnor is no more. Thou art king of NOTHING, save for outlaws and thieves, and thou art the old graybeard's thrall!

"Trucebreaker! Puppet! Now thow hast threatened the emissary of the Great Eye! All these things thou art, but most of all, thou art a fool!


Filled with intense hatred and malice, the Witch-King's eyes glow fiercely red and his steel crown shines with a fell light. The flames race up and down the edges of the sword. Fury and loathing build to a cresendo in his mind. "Matum! Matum!" The words echo violently in his thoughts.

"Elbereth Gilthoniel, Lady of the Stars! Hear my call, give me thy light to push the darkness back into the abyss!"

The hated name! The Witch-King shrieks and his horse draws back. The strength of his will recovers from the sound of the name, and once again the bloodlust falls upon the Witch-King. "Matum! Matum! Matum!" the death call echoes in his mind, but then strangely, his gaze is drawn skyward against his will, and he sees the bright shining light. The bright star glimmers, just enough to be seen through the dark clouds hanging overhead. The Witch-King is dismayed and hesitates. "What might be the manner of this and what ill omen does it portend?"

At last, Aragorn moves. He points his sword from the sky to the general direction of the Witch King. "Hear this, Fallen Black Numenourean - who are thou if not a witless dreamer seeking visions? A fool drawn in by a Liar's promise of immortality. The Black Numenoreans, faithless betrayers of not only friends, but King and kinsmen. Lest you come here to test the truthfulness of the prophecy that you so boldly use to justify your arrogance, turn on your heels and run back to your Orcs, for I am not fooled by your false claim of truce or Parley. The venomous words you have belched have done their worst and now ends your game. Either stand forth and deal with the blade that has defeated your master, or run back to your Dark Lord and whither into the abyss that has been prepared for you."

The star, the star that seems so faint to the others seems to lash his mind with pain. The harshness of the name Elbereth strikes him furiously and the dread fell brightness of the star pierces his will. "Nay, not She! Not She to shine upon them so! A dread omen!" Fear fills him at the sight of the star, which has cut through the darkness of the cloud of Sauron. "It cannot be," his mind cries. "She has pierced the Master's cloud!" Still though, he will not yield to Aragorn, but he will yield to the portent of the star.

"Have it thy way then, petty kinglet! Thou shalt have thy war, and have it soon, but remember these words: Bolvagal za lat-ir: mash krampub-lat ragub ulkûrz-u! Honub-izgu naga ûgh urzkû!"

He motions to his heralds to follow him and then he turns his horse, puts spurs to its sides and gallops off into the darkness.

Somewhere far above the gloom, the seven stars of the Valacirca seem to flare with a strange new anger.

Angmar's comment about Aragorn and the "Lords of the West" was Numenorean sarcasm. The Numenoreans began to call themselves "The Lords of the West" but that title was reserved for the Valar alone. ( Angmar's cynical remarks were designed to call Aragorn's attention to the fact that the Men of Numenor had fallen from grace long ago.
"[Denethor] turned his dark eyes on Gandalf, and now Pippin saw a likeness between the two, and he felt the strain between them, almost as if he saw a line of smoldering fire, drawn from eye to eye, that might suddenly burst into flame. .... he saw that Denethor and Gandalf still looked each other in the eye, as if reading the other's mind. But it was Denethor who first withdrew his gaze." - Minas Tirith, p. 29, ROTK
"Aragorn said naught in answer, but he took the [Mouth of Sauron's] eye and held it, and for a moment they strove thus; but soon, though Aragorn did not stir nor move hand to weapon, the other quailed and gave back as if menaced with a blow." - The Black Gate Opens, p. 165, ROTK
From Aduniac, the language of Old Numenor:
Kalab izindiô; 'nki batân lôkhî!
(Fall from straight; paths be crooked!)
Bawâb 'n dolgu kalab 'nê Urî Bâr!
(Wind of [evil] night fall on Sun Lord!)
Azara Bâr kalab dâurada!
(Azra Lord fall down into darkness!)
Zigûrun 'nki kathuphazgân!
(The Wizard [Sauron] your conquerer!)
*"Sun Lord" used here as a personification of the light of the West.

Bolvagal za lat-ir
this curse on you
mash krampub-lat
what you do
ragub ulkûrz-u
will turn to evil
Honub-izgu naga ûgh urzkû
We will see each other again

For discussions of why Aragorn's claim to the throne of Gondor were questioned, see the links below:

The Valacirca: The Sickle of the Valar, the seven stars set in the sky by Varda as an enduring warning to Melkor and his servants.
"And in answer he sang a song of challenge that he had made in praise of the Seven Stars, the Sickle of the Valar that Varda hung above the North as a sign for the fall of Morgoth." Quenta Silmarillion 19, Of Beren and Lúthien

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