The Circles - Book Six - Chapter 5

The Circles - Book Six - Across the Wide Hamada
Chapter Five
Treachery Revealed
Written by Angmar and Elfhild

Scarcely had the girl's limp form collapsed upon the divan than the sound of heavy footsteps thundered in the hall outside. Irritated at the interruption, Corporal Bekir spun around as the door was flung open. A sudden draft swept across the chamber, twisting and bending the glowing wicks of the candles and extinguishing others entirely. Reviving from the chill breeze, the wavering flames rose back up, but they did not seem to burn quite so brightly as they once had.

There, filling the doorway, was a massive form which seemed at first to be made of pure shadow, absorbing all the light around it and compressing it into darkness. As the figure stepped into the room, the two men felt a ripple of dread rush over them as they realized just who the intruder was.

The Seneschal of Minas Morgul.

"Wha - what are you doing here?" Corporal Bekir demanded, his voice strained. His fingers twitching, his hand moved instinctively towards the dagger at his belt, but he fought down the instinct to reach for the weapon. He must remain calm!

"Just making a friendly call, Corporal," the wraith drawled as he walked over to the table and poured himself a drink from the bottle. "We heard down the way that there was some trouble at the fortress, so I thought it wise to bring a detachment of my men here to lend our aid. The Captain of the Elite Guard is presently having... a cordial conversation with your commandant. He can be very friendly, you know." The hooded one's voice was iced velvet.

"I do not know what you have heard, but there is no trouble here!" Bekir growled. "You have no right to be at Cirith Ungol!"

"Ah, but I do." Though his hood concealed his face, there was a smile in the dark one's voice. "This document gives me the right. Read it for yourself." He tossed a sealed scroll case to the Corporal. "You will see it is all quite official."

Bekir tore open the end of the case and drew out the scroll. With an angry motion of his hand, he unrolled the missive and quickly perused it. "I will not accept this!" he roared, looking back up at the hooded one.

"Whose signet seal is at the bottom, my erstwhile friend?" the cold voice asked. "Perhaps you need help reading it?" Moving like a swift hunting cat, the Seneschal gripped the neck of Bekir's tunic and hoisted him up, pushing the letter into the Corporal's shocked face so that he could see the dread signature which signed it. The ornate, highly embellished Mordorian calligraphy bearing the name of the Dark Lord and the image of the Great Eye stamped in red wax seemed to burn into Bekir's mind. "Now sit down, Corporal, and read the scroll to me like a good lad." Laughing, he slammed the gasping Bekir down on the divan beside the unconscious girl. Priooz shuddered, his hand shaking as he knocked over the inkwell, the liquid slowly soaking into his journal. With a sob, he buried his face in his hands.

"Now tell me, dear heart, what the scroll says." The hooded one bent down and watched as Bekir, his hands trembling, fumbled with the scroll.

"This cannot be!" the Corporal sputtered. "Totally outrageous, I tell you! What lies have you told Him? There is no reason He should order the forfeiture of this tower!"

"Do you think not?" the Seneschal's smirking voice asked. "I could list a few... Gross incompetence and mismanagement, bribery, extortion, subterfuge, cases of outright theft..." The dark one's voice was a hiss. "The assassination of Commandant Shukur… and a very, very wicked plot to assassinate poor Captain Valto as well. What a shame, Corporal!" The hooded head shook from side to side. "This garrison has been turned into a hotbed of treachery and rebellion! When our Great Master saw the evidence, you can only imagine how very disappointed He was in Commandant Panturion and the rest of you. I would worry about the Commandant, if I were you. He might not live to be much older." He threw back his head, bared his teeth and howled in laughter.

Certain that he was about to die, Corporal Bekir vowed that he would take the dark one with him. Pulling his dagger from its sheath as he leapt from the divan, he plunged the blade into the stomach of his opponent. The clank of metal upon metal echoed in Bekir's ears as a wrenching pain shot up his arm. His face convulsed in shock, he stared disbelievingly into the vast emptiness held within the black cavern of the dark one's cowl. With a sobbing curse, he realized too late that the wraith wore armor beneath his swirling black robes.

"My, we are unfriendly this eve!" The hooded one clucked his tongue as he seized Bekir's arm in a grip of iron, crushing and splintering the bones, sending fragments erupting from his skin in an explosion of blood and gore. The man fell yowling to the carpet, where he writhed in agony, crutching his ruined arm.

"Does it really hurt that much?" Lord Kalus asked sympathetically as he brought his boot down upon the mangled limb. "Tsk, tsk..." He put his finger to his lips and looked down at the Corporal. "What a pity! You have soiled your fine breeches!" The wraith's nose twitched in disgust as he smelled the growing fetid stench in the chamber.

"Have mercy!" Bekir screamed out in agony, the fingers of his good hand clawing at the carpet.

"Certainly, Corporal," the wraith replied amiably as he twisted the ball of his foot and ground the heel of his boot into Bekir's arm. A sighing hiss escaped the Seneschal's cold lips as he listened in rapturous satisfaction as Bekir screamed again and again. "You will feel much better when you are dead, which I think will be very soon. Now there is just the small matter of achieving your demise." With a swish of metal, Kalus unsheathed his long sword and held it high above his head, the blade poised over Bekir's writhing body. "It is only polite to ask if there are any last requests. 'Tis the decent thing to do, you know," he murmured softly.

Pirooz was sobbing, his head resting on his ink-soaked journal. He had given up all hope, prepared to die at the hands of this monster. Though this was not the time for regrets, he wished that he had never taken this accursed assignment. He must act as a man, though, and so he pulled himself into a sitting position as he waited to hear Bekir's final screams. He hoped his own death would be quick. He had no expectations that it would be, though.

"No requests, just a few... questions... before I die," Corporal Bekir panted with the strain of speaking, gritting his teeth against the pain.

"That can be arranged..." the hooded one replied. "I have all the time in eternity, and soon you will have an abundance of that commodity, too. Ask away."

"First," Bekir gasped, licking his parched lips, "how did you... find out... about Shukur's assassination… and the plot... to kill Valto? Was it... a spy?"

"Aye..." the wraith answered pleasantly. "How perspicacious of you to come to that conclusion."

"I knew it!" Bekir exulted in spite of the pain. "Who was he?"

"Not a he, dear friend, but a very charming lady who has suffered much at your hands." The glowing amber eyes slanted towards the door, where Awarthannen stood. "Come in and say goodbye, my pet."

"My lord," the lovely Gondorian bowed to the tall wraith lord, "I will be delighted to bid the Corporal farewell."

"Then come closer... and watch." With one swift movement, Kalus plunged the blade into Bekir's entrails. Howling in pain, the Corporal gripped his stomach as the blood oozed over his fingers. "That will keep him occupied and out of trouble for a while, my sweet. It might take hours for him to die from a gut wound... Would you like to finish him off?" the Seneschal drawled slowly as he wiped his sword off with a bit of cloth and then sheathed the weapon. His eyes now filled with a tender glow, he touched Awarthannen's face gently with his gloved hand.

"It would be one of the greatest pleasures of my life, my lord," she purred, kissing the leather covered fingers. "I have been waiting for this moment a very long time."

"Yes, sweetling... I know it has been difficult." He bent down and kissed her cheek, his fingers lightly caressing her raven hair. "Soon he will trouble you no more," he told her as he slid a small dagger from his belt and gave it to her. "Be gentle with him, my pet."

"Oh, I will, my lord... very, very gentle... as gentle as he was with me." Fluttering her eyelashes, she flashed Lord Kalus a radiant smile.

"No! NO!" Bekir screamed as Awarthannen swayed over to him, wiggling her hips suggestively. Dropping to her knees, she caressed his face in her hands, kissing him softly on the lips. The light of the candles was reflected in Awarthannen's eyes, and the dying man saw the amber flecks which surrounded the pupils of those gray orbs as a ring of vindictive fire.

"How sweet is love," she sighed as she caressed the back of his neck, pushing her jutting breasts against his chest. Holding his horrified eyes with her own, she flipped up the lower half of his tunic and drew down his bloody breeches and sirwal. "The sigh, the kiss, the look of love... the tender touch of a lover's hand... Love is everything, the sun that melts the frost from even the hardest hearts. The poets are fond of telling us of love's boundless rapture," she sang softly. Grasping his flaccid manhood, she slid her hand up and down its length. With a seductive smile and a mocking little sigh, she straightened her back, and, giving the knob a playful little squeeze, she held his member at an angle.

"Soon... soon..." she murmured. Bringing the dagger to her lips, she kissed the flat of the blade. "Remember how you looked into my eyes as you scored my flesh with the knife? As long as I live, I will remember your expression, the look upon your face, at this moment of parting," she hissed as she swung the blade down, severing the Corporal's manhood in twain and sending a shower of blood over them both.

"That is for taking my maidenhead, you bastard!" Awarthannen hissed as she grabbed his beard and forced him to look up at her. Writhing and howling upon the floor, Bekir shrieked in agony as the girl twisted the blade into what had once been his robust cullions.

"And this," she lifted the bloody knife again, "is for ever looking at me!"

"NO--" Bekir screamed, but the sound was cut short as the blade tore through his eyeball, turning it into a bloody pulp. His last sight was that of the enraged girl as her bloody knife plunged through his remaining eye and sank deep into his brain.

"And this is for ruining my life!" Her face contorted in hatred, she drove the knife into his throat over and over again.

Bending down, Kalus lifted the panting, gore-spattered girl from the corpse. "That is enough, Awarthannen, my savage beauty. How lovely you are, caught in the throes of hate and passion!" The dark hood bent down and Kalus buried his head between her breasts, smelling the intoxicating scents of blood, sweat and woman. A cool tongue flicked out, licking the blood from her heaving bosom. "Ahh," he moaned from between her breasts, "time slips by and there is much yet to do here." With a low hiss, he straightened his tall form and rubbed his hand over her firm bottom.

"What about Pirooz?" Awarthannen spun around and pointed the blood dripping knife at the cringing secretary. "Shall I kill him, too?"

"Still thirsty for vengeance?" the wraith chuckled, inhaling deeply of the rich scent of blood which hung over the chamber. "I suppose we could flip a coin and let Fate decide, but I think not. The secretary will live for now, for he still is of value. He has much information which we need to know. After he is interrogated, he should have a promising career in the Master's mines."

"My lord, you are correct, of course... a slow, grinding death pushing coal carts is far preferable to a quick, merciful death." She stared at the trembling Pirooz, a cold, deadly gleam in her eyes. Though he had never done anything more than grope her in darkened corridors, still it would give her heart great delight to cut him up piece by piece like a butcher slicing meat! She knew better than to argue with her fearsome lord, however. "Now the girl..." she looked up at the wraith, concern upon her face. "What becomes of her?"

"The Rohirric slave girl? She and her sister will live." Turning from Awarthannen, Kalus strode over to Elfhild and lifted her up in his powerful arms. As his fiery eyes traced over the curves of her unconscious form, he murmured, "Amol âmul, amol âmbal... 'Twould be a pity to rouse her from such a beautiful sleep, where she has forgotten the follies of the awakened."

"What have they done to her, my lord? Have they poisoned her?" Awarthannen asked hesitantly, touching his sleeve. She remembered the kindness which the twins had shown her.

"Nay, sweet Awarthannen. They have administered a potion which is called 'The Tongue of Truth.' This elixir puts victims in a susceptible state so that they will answer any question truthfully. When she awakens, she will have no memory of what transpired tonight... not even this." Chuckling, he bent down and brought his cool mouth to the girl's blood-caked lips. "What an enticing fragrance," he murmured huskily as his long tongue slid out and teased over the crimson stain.

Lifting his head, Kalus turned to Awarthannen, his eyes gleaming with unsatisfied desire. "My men should have the fortress well in hand by this time. You will be safe now, my bloody little kitten. No one will ever harm you again."

As they left the Corporal's apartments and entered the guardroom, Lord Kalus and Awarthannen were greeted by the smell of blood and the macabre sight of wounded and dying men and uruks. Catching sight of their lord, two of the black and silver clad troopers of Minas Morgul strode forward and bowed. Nodding his recognition of their obeisance, the wraith gave the sergeant, a man by the name of Atis, permission to speak.

"My lord Kalus, Seneschal of Minas Morgul, it gives me great joy to inform you that the fortress has fallen into our hands. Those malefactors who survived have been locked away in the dungeons, there to await your pleasure." The young trooper beamed proudly. If Atis was in the slightest bit surprised or bemused by the sight of the unconscious girl carried in his commander's arms, he kept it to himself.

"Sergeant, give my regards to Captain Bataar, who has led our forces to triumph under daunting circumstances," the wraith told him briskly.

"Certainly, sir." Atis put his clenched fist to his shoulder in salute as he bowed his head. "Will there be anything else?" The two soldiers waited patiently for their next order.

"Yes, as a matter of fact, there is," Kalus replied, an unmistakable twinge of amusement in his voice. "Take this young maiden off my hands. Take both her and her sister to the second floor guest chambers, where they may recover from their stupor. Fetch the healer of the fortress and see that he tends to them. That will be all, sergeant. You are dismissed."

After the two soldiers had departed, Awarthannen looked up at the Seneschal. "My lord," she bowed her head, kissing his gloved hand, "what will happen now?"

He looked down at her and caressed her cheek. "When morning dawns, the Master's new appointee, Bataar Khan of Outer Rhûn, will swear his oath of allegiance to me as the representative of Mordor. Then with all due pomp and ceremony, I will confer the rank of Commandant of Cirith Ungol upon his shoulders. There will be a short victory celebration... a small affair, really... speeches... drinks... the usual. Unfortunately, protocol specifies that outsiders are barred from attending such investitures."

"And what of the future, my lord?" the Gondorian slave girl asked cautiously, her brows knitted together in worry. "Have I not served you well? Could I feel confident of some reward?"

"Ah, yes, my beauty." The Seneschal's eyes glowed in amusement. "There will be gold, of course, and new gowns to replace your rags. After the festivities, I will present you to the new Commandant. A descendant of the fearsome Golden Lords, he is an esteemed and honored warrior in his own land. Though it is said that he can be stern, he will appreciate a lovely Gondorian blossom from the West. Use your womanly wiles, my sweet, and you will win his heart."


Amol âmul, amol âmbal - How calm, how beautiful (Shadowlandian Black Speech)

"And at all times they smell the blood of living things, desiring and hating it."
–"A Knife in the Dark," Fellowship of the Ring, p. 202.

While this quote is referring to the wraiths' amazing olfactory powers, Angmar took the interpretation a bit deeper, and theorized that the wraiths could have a lust for blood which is in opposition to what remains of their human nature. Therefore, the wraiths in "The Circles" have vampiric tendencies and have been known to drink the blood of their enemies, as well as the blood of supplicants shed in rituals. Drinking blood also brings out their more savage nature, which can be difficult to control. (Hence the part about them both "desiring and hating" the blood of living things.)

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