The Nazgul:Part One of Two
As I was making my way down the road one evening, through what may have been the
worst storm of my life, I came upon a small cabin by the side of the road. An
old man dressed in rags regarding me as I approached.
Come in with me and sit by the fire; I'll tell you a tale of things past.
A tale of this Middle-earth, and of things that have roamed upon it.
What could I say? I was tired and it was beginning to get cold. I knew that the
old man was probably a lunatic but in the same moment decided it was all right.
After all, what could an old man do to someone like me? I'd seen dangers aplenty
and I would be more than happy to listen to an old man's chattering as I ate his
food and warmed myself by his fire, so I followed.
We sat without words and he poked at the fire for a time. He looked me in the
eyes for a moment, sizing me up. Then he spoke.
You've seen many troubles these days, haven't you?
definitely seen a hard day's hike at the least. You have the look of a man that
has spent many a day doing such, as though you have seen much of this world. But when I was young...
Spendid! I thought. He continued on, ignoring my obvious discontent.
...there were few travelers if any. It was a different world altogether at
that time. It was in the end of the Third Age of the Sun, and the Ring War was
at hand; there were strange folk about and battles with the Orcs of the Suaron
raged all about this border.
The old man had taken a break, breathing in deeply and fussing over the fire
again. I took it as an opportunity to take off my cloak and hang it on a rack
next to the mantle. I took special care to let him see my sword before removing it and then sat back down next to the fire.
Think you'll need that bit of shine for me? Ehh, it is the way of you young men I suppose, weapons and such. Good idea to get comfortable though; I've much to say and with this storm you'll
likely be staying the night. He looked up from the coals. So what
would a young man like yourself be interested in talking about?He asked.
He looked at me with more than a question in his voice as he reached over to his
shabby little table and carefully lifted a bowl and began to spoon out some of
the stew hanging over the fire.You should eat this, he started,
extending the bowl.I made it for you anyway. He finished, waiting
for me to take it.
So a young man like yourself is sure to want a tale of much action and
fury and perhaps even battle,he suggested, looking into the
fire,and to your fortune I know much about such things.The old man
sighed and looked up at me from the fire.So, what's it to be young man?
Shall I tell you of the darkness or the light?, he asked with surprising
volume, the flames shining brightly in his stark blue eyes.
Of the darkness old man, for no light shall we see this night, not through
this storm, I said, now taking my turn to look into the flames.
You think so boy? he said looking at me as though I were no more
than a child.Fair enough then, I'd hate to disappoint one with such an
understanding of things; I'll tell you a story of the darkness and then prove to
you that the light will penetrate even the deepest black, he said with a
finality that made me feel the fool.
You know of the ring lord Sauron I'm sure, he began,as the
story has been spread as pollen is in the wind. He looked through the
fire, as if he was going somewhere in his mind, somewhere far away.
Naturally therefore you know about the rings of power and about how they
were used to ensnare nine of the greatest of the race of men, and turn these men
into horribly powerful abominations that served only the dark lord? he
asked me, still staring into the flames.
I knew of the dark lord but of no other ring than his own, I
managed, looking only at this now slightly-amazing old man before me.
Well then I shall tell you all I have heard of them, and of those that
wore them through the second and third ages of this world, he said as he
looked me in the eyes. For that moment time froze as he drew on his pipe, the
orange glow hitting his eyes, mixing with the brown already contained therein to
make them look as if they were smoldering coals themselves. It seemed for just
that moment that the whole of the world was encased in those eyes; I felt as
though they could hold me for the rest of my life, but then he blinked and the
spell was broken.
What are you old man? I asked, feeling that I could contain the
question no longer. Understand that I am not paranoid by nature but that this
man was very strange indeed and I could no longer believe that he was some
simple old fellow in front of the fire puffing on his pipe.
That is not for tonight, he said simply, leaving not even the
slightest room for comment or reprieve. Though you shall not leave here
empty-handed young man, you certainly shan't dictate what I shall tell, at least
not this night. He held my gaze, giving not even a moment. Finally, I
broke gaze with the man, looking into the fire.
What, I asked, shall we talk about then?I finished,
then just as soon began again, Shall we talk about these nine then? These
great men who all had rings? I asked eagerly.
Yes, I shall tell you of the Nine, the Nazgul as I knew them. He
looked into the fire with me before he continued.The Nazgul were once of
the race of men on this middle earth. They were the darkest and most powerful
creations of the dark lord Sauron.As he finished I drew my breath in
fear of the name itself, as it was considered unwise to say it since the ring
war.Fear that name not, young man. I promise you that the dark lord is no
more; I know this on reliable authority as I am almost to return home, and such
a thing wouldn't be possible were it otherwise.
You are a strange old man, I said, looking away from those eyes.
Were I your age, I would hope to already be at home.The man looked
around his little cottage, and then back at me. Well I suppose this is
home, after a fashion. It has served me for a long time, longer than you would
dream possible. I should perhaps say that I need to return to where I came from,
but again, that is not for tonight. Tonight is for the nine. Now where was
You had said that they were men, and that they were of Sauron, the
Deceiver.As I said the title Deceiver, his eyes shot up to meet mine.
Where did you learn that name boy? he asked, excitedly, without
the slightest trace of anger in his voice. Don't worry, boy, I'm not going
to kill you for it; I just wanted to congratulate you on knowing your history,
its not many that know that name, only the wise. I said nothing, and he
looked back at the fire in his disappointment, giving it a prod with the fire
poker and watching as the logs broke to embers and as the sparks jumped to the
chimney. So yes, they were the servants of the Deceiver, and they were
The man knocked out his pipe into the fire then snatched up a second pipe off
the mantle place, filled it with pipe-weed, and lit it, puffing thick smoke out
into the air between us. They were the most powerful of the Deceiver's
aides. He gave them the powers to call fire and to beckon with their voice, boy.
He also gave them many normal weapons with which to kill; he gave them swords
and maces and poisoned daggers that would forever change a person into a wraith,
like them. Another puff of smoke crossed over those eyes and filled the
space between us once more. I would have sworn that for just a moment those eyes
glowed with a bluish, otherworldly light. I must be going crazy I
Their very breath would freeze any man in his tracks and make him give in
to despair, and if you could manage to strike them you'd best hope you're lucky
in your friends and that your blade was blessed by Elves, for if it wasn't it
would rust right there in your hands. He dumped the ashes out of his
pipe and put it back up on the mantle, I sat there a little dumbfounded as I
tried to take in all that he had told me. Some I had known, some I had not, and
only one thing was I certain of. I needed to know more.
What more can you tell me of these wraiths, old man?