The Circles - Book One - Chapter Twenty - Dreams of Conquest

The Circles - Book One - The Triumph of the Shadow
Chapter Twenty
Dreams of Conquest
Written by Angmar

It was an hour after dawn on June the 14th. After two days of assaults by Mordorian forces, the fortress of Helm's Deep still stood; the besieged Gondorian army and Rohirric homeguard still defiant. The men inside the fortress had vowed a fight to the death, but they were bereft of all except hope. The bulk of the Rohirrim cavalry and Prince Imrahil's Dol Amroth cavalry was believed still to be somewhere to the West. Even if couriers had been dispatched to the fortress with word of Éomer and Prince Imrahil, the besieging army of Mordor would have prevented the delivery of any message.

Throughout the night, the combined host of the survivors of the South and the homeguard of Rohan had fought along the Deeping Wall and the outer wall of the Burg. Though sorely outnumbered, they had fended off the attackers, throwing down scaling ladders from the walls, sending orcs and men to their screaming deaths below. The fighting had been desperate, but the men had learned from their costly lessons in the South. The sieges there had been deadly ones, and the men of the West had been forced to employ other tactics. Great vats of boiling water were dumped on the enemies trying to scale the wall, scalding them and forcing them to relinquish their holds upon the ladders.

With the dawn of the second day, the hosts of Rohan and Dol Amroth were still nowhere to be seen. Both exhausted from the nights before, Aragorn and Gandalf stood talking atop the walls looking out over the Deeping Coomb. The air seemed to vibrate with great thundering crashes as they listened to the battering rams pounding against the Great Gate of the fortress.

Maugoth Tahmtan of Khand, commander of the Mordor Army in the absence of the Morgul Lord and his Lieutenant, had slept little the night before. His field headquarters had been bustling all night with couriers bearing dispatches and aides writing down responses. About the portable field table in his pavilion, his staff was gathered with him, all looking as haggard as he. They were all apprehensive; they expected the arrival of the Witch-king himself, and that was often a harrowing enough experience.

"Just get the discussion over with and leave quickly, please," Tahmtan hoped.

Although the Black Captain was always polite and very efficient, the general had never been comfortable in his presence, and often after his commander had gone, Maugoth Tahmtan felt a sense of frigid condemnation settle over him. Tahmtan never considered himself to be completely in the Morgul Lord's good graces. It was always discomfiting to be in the presence of Gods.

"He must be here now," the nervous officer thought as the tent flap was opened. With much obeisance and bowing from the guards, nine dark hooded and cloaked figures were ushered into the headquarters tent. Upon the hooded head of the tallest was a gleaming crown of steel. Tahmtan noticed that the lieutenant at his right was visibly gulping, and a tremor rushed down Tahmtan's own body as the men all rose to bow to the Holy Lords of Immortality.

"Greetings, Shakh Krithob," Tahmtan said deferentially.

"Broshan," was the reply from the Morgul Lord, while the others with him merely inclined their heads.

"The Others," Tahmtan thought, "why do they come with him this morning? They must wish to study me for some reason, or to intimidate me, or perhaps by their very presence, they want to remind me of the consequences of failure." His temples began to throb with his fear and he felt the palms of his hands grow clammy.

Tahmtan had been almost jubilant when the great, black tents of Angmar and "the Others" were pitched at a goodly distance from his own. Though he would not admit it to his superior, the Maugoth preferred that the Dark King and his coterie were as far away from his headquarters tent as possible. The Witch-king and his Eight companions were formidable enough without the addition of the sable robed Silent Ones, servants of the Nazgûl who never spoke. The Maugoth was never quite certain if they were the same kind as the Dark Captain or something far worse. "Perhaps animated corpses, moving only at their masters' bidding," he thought. He felt a wave of shuddering dread, vast in width and depth, swirl over him and pull him down into a churning whirlpool.

"The Silent Ones," he shuddered.

"Please be seated," Maugoth Tahmtan requested politely.

"Narnûlublat," the Morgul Lord replied and took his seat. The other Eight remained standing in a parallel line behind their lord, four on either side. The general sensed that the Morgul Lord was amused at the distress which the mortals felt in his presence.

Seeing that the Eight would not take seats, the Maugoth and his staff sat down nervously across the table from the Black Captain.

"Your report, Maugoth?" came the deep, resonant voice out of the black hood. His cultured accent was always hard to define.

"My lord, we expect that the Great Gate will be splintered today. The battering ram is very thorough in its work. All is in readiness. After the Gate is destroyed, I do not expect that there will be much work. It will be a simple matter of killing all within."

"Not all."

"Is your novel policy of accepting surrender still in affect?"

"Novel?" the Morgul Lord repeated the word. "Akh, novel, indeed, but slaves are useful, and there must be some kept alive for that. Those of valor," he said, as though pondering some great metaphysical question, "spare them... the Uncrowned King, akh, and those as brave as he... they should be taken alive. Akh, they will be.... honored."

Maugoth Tahmtan was very uncomfortable and a stark, chill thought fell upon him like a sudden burst of cold, watery ice. The Maugoth had heard tales of how valiant enemies were often "honored" by the Nine, and if the tales were true, such rewards for bravery were some kind of living death.

"And the Wizard, Mithrandir... take him alive, if you can. He might make for... interesting conversation... and amusement."

The Eighth Nazgûl turned his head slightly, a morbid smile upon his face.

"All will be done that you have ordered, my lord," replied Tahmtan, attempting to sound nonplused and efficient.

"Then that will be all," the Morgul Lord said as he rose to his feet.

In his haste to rise and bow, the lieutenant beside Tahmtan knocked his chair over. Embarrassed, he bowed and left the chair to be righted when the Nine had gone.

"Aanug tor," Angmar said as he turned, and he and the Eight walked towards the open tent flap, a rustle of black cloaks marking their departure.

"Wine!" Tahmtan exclaimed as he sank back into his chair and put a shaky hand to his forehead. He hoped that the Nine were out of hearing range.


In the cavalry camp south of the Deeping Stream and the road, Sergeant Daungha had awakened long before dawn to find himself sitting up in his blankets, frightened and mumbling, "No! No! No!"

He had been dreaming once again of Blue Eyes, and the dream had been both sensual and terrifying. He had at last seduced the Rohirric girl and was on the brink of savoring her fully. Then he had been interrupted by the cavalry Lieutenant, who had rushed into the room, pointing a long, accusing finger at him and shouting, "Directives!" Then a host of troopers had burst into the room, hurling obscenities and brandishing sharp knives and scimitars. They had dragged him to the floor, pummeling him with their fists, while the girl had screamed and clutched the sheets over her unclad body. The dream became murky after that, filled with fire and shining blades, and he had felt a burning dagger plunge deep into his groin.

He had been having repeating dreams about the Rohirric girl since that evening almost a fortnight ago when he had forced his mouth upon her unwilling one. Her slender body had been warm as he had pressed her close to him, and she had trembled and struggled in his strong grasp. Her chest had heaved as her breath came in gasps, pushing her full breasts against him. He wondered what delightful treasures of the flesh that her garments had hidden. And how he had longed to delve that secret hollow between her legs that his hand had barely been able to touch! He was becoming aroused once again by just the thoughts of that most wondrous of places.

Sergeant Daungha wished he had been in a place where he could have ripped the clothing right off the girl's body and had her on the spot. She would have protested, of course, he thought and laughed. Though he was only twenty-five years of age, he was an experienced lover, having lain with his father's servant girls when he was only fifteen. In his sublime arrogance, he knew that with his skills, the fair-headed one's protests would eventually yield to moans of pleasure. All she needed was a man to tame her, and she would soon realize the submissive place of all women and accept the domination of her master.

He had taken women against their will before, back in the East, during the uprisings, but that was before the unwelcomed Directives. The soldiers, even the scholarly Captain Kourosh, had all done the same, unleashing their suppressed passions not yet satisfied by battle, and many had reveled wildly in their capture of girls as young as twelve. That victory had been celebrated for over a week and the women of the conquered city had provided entertainment for them each night. Some of the officers, who had developed a fondness for the wenches and had the coin to pay for their transportation, had sent their lovers back to their own cities and villages to serve as concubines for them upon their return. Sergeant Daungha had not had the rank or the higher pay necessary for this privilege then. With great reluctance, at the end of the week's celebration, he had to relinquish his women. He fain would have taken them all with him when he set off on this war so far away from his home. Then his desires could have been satisfied every lonely night on the long journey.

Every man needed many women to satisfy his needs. His father, though not a man of great wealth, had maintained a number of wives, concubines and slave girls and the eunuchs and servants needed to attend them. His father often said that women were like a beautiful garden of flowers, and it was both the task and the pleasure of their lord to see that each delicate bud was well tended and that the ground was always kept well ploughed and watered.

Many of the women grew to love his father, and he had grown to love them, even taking some of them with him when he went off on forays in war. It was the great pride of his father to relate the story of how his wains and supply wagons had once been cut off from his warriors by enemy raiders. Many of his women had braided and beaded their hair in the fashion of warriors, painted their eyes with kohl and took knives, scimitars, shields, and spears and driven off the foe. "My fierce warriors!" he had always called them, and they, among all other women, had always obtained, besides his great love, special privileges and great gifts of jewels, rugs and slaves.

Sergeant Daungha's brothers, both younger and older, now numbered twenty, or at least they did when last he was home. He was sure, though, that since his father was in the prime of his life, retaining great virility and potency still, that many of the women, especially the younger, had wombs swollen with his father's seed. Daungha’s sisters, though not quite so numerous, would be given to friendly lords as gifts from his father to ensure these vassals' continuing allegiance to him. His father was well on the way to becoming a great chieftain by virtue of both his might in war and by the sheer number of his prodigy that he had married off to grateful lords.

"Perhaps," Sergeant Daungha thought, "I will someday be a warlord like my father and have many flocks, herds, fields and women and much wealth. Why then do I dream of some peasant girl who is probably so ignorant that she cannot read or write, sing, play a musical instrument, write poetry, and quite possibly has no more knowledge of bathing than would a pig! It is said by those who are wise that the people of the West are uncivilized savages."

What was this pretty but not impressive maiden to him anyway? Nothing. Just a wench that he had seen along the road, a passing fancy. In the fertile plain between the Great Rivers back in the eastern reaches of his land, she would have been nothing more than a slave tending a field somewhere. An officer in the army or a lord would not take notice of her. She was unknowing of any life other than some peasant's sty, ignorant of the world, of life and of men. There were those far fairer in face and in form in his own land than she, riper, more willing wenches who would admire him both for his prowess in battle and in bed. After the victory today, he would go to the place where the camp followers had set up their tents and find experienced women, who, with hand and mouth and willing bodies, could bring him to the heights of sensual fulfillment. There he would satisfy his passions and forget about the Rohirric girl. He would never see her again anyway. Just another light-haired wench.

But those eyes, gentle Blue Eyes, Blue Eyes of aquamarine that could see into the heart and the soul and perhaps the past and future. Blue Eyes fairer than the distant skies. And just as unobtainable! Forget her! Nothing more than an infatuation! "But then," he wondered, "why do my loins grow warm and my heart grows so tender when I think about her?"

Despite the disturbing dream and the intrusion into his mind and soul by his constant thoughts of the girl, he had every reason to feel elated. The girl, no matter that the dream might portend, would have little consequence upon his life, and the odd night fantasy was just one of many passionate dreams. But that skin so soft, those fine strands of hair, and those kisses! Blue Eyes! Forget her!

Yes, he should feel elated, pleased, but he was only relieved. The Captain had interceded with the Lieutenant for his sake and had asked that a lesser penalty be dealt the sergeant. The Lieutenant took a dim view of the sergeant's indiscretions, saying in his usual cold, haughty tone of voice that, "such actions could lead the men to mutinous behavior." Though the sergeant was as guilty as any common felon, the commander of the cavalry had announced, in patronizing tones and with a great look of being put upon, that, "the matter can wait until after the battle." Sergeant Daungha knew that meant he was left to agonize over his predicament for as long as the Lieutenant wished to let him dangle. There was always the choice of "dying nobly in battle; all things are forgiven to those who do," meaning, of course, the Gods.

The sergeant had been appropriately grateful. When he considered his circumstances, they could be far worse than they were now. He could be lying gelded somewhere upon filthy straw, groaning in agony and unable to walk for days. Then it would be shackles and manacles, branding, shorn hair and beard, and life as a slave.

He tried to steel his mind and dismiss these troubling thoughts. It was duty as usual today, and he would be leading his troopers with pride in them and in himself and the skills that he had learned in many skirmishes and battles in the East. When the time came to face the consequences of his actions, he hoped that he would have Captain Kourosh's stoicism, calm reliance upon philosophy, and his intellect to guide him. He knew he would not.


Black Speech:
Shakh Krithob - Lord of the Nine
"Aanug tor" - Pleasant morning
"Narnûlublat" - Thank you