Ash and Stone: Good News for Us

Dol Guldur
Dol Guldur

The main gate was small from the high tower, but he knew that the visitor was no friend of Mordor. No orc nor goblin walked with such an air of high confidence and no Man would come here without a guard. The shouting and commotion (ugh, orcs) had drawn his attention, but what he saw kept it until the man was shackled and hustled inside.

His suspicions were confirmed when he returned to his room that evening and found the note on his bedside table.

It smelled of him. Youth and eagerness and conflict. Zabathôr felt it in his young lord and he read it between the curves of his fine penmanship. He read the words: Azulgar’s slave had returned to him. It was one less thing Zabathôr now had to worry about, had to plot and plan. The gentle admission of enjoying their talks outside of the incessant schedule of meetings and planning sessions and inspections.

The note brought a smile to Zabathôr’s lips, but first things first: the news that Azulgar’s lover willingly returned to his loving embrace.

While his first instinct was to spend his jubilation twirling about his room, Zabathôr knew something about the young man’s sudden appearance right at the gates of Dol Guldur was rather convenient, and if he had learned anything in his half-century of life, it was nothing was ever without a price. Especially if it was convenient. He was not about to look a gift horse in the mouth, at least not in front of the givers. But the cost

His window offered a fine panoramic view of the decaying forest around the fortress. Far below, a row of slaves toiled before the great furnaces that allowed the armies of Dol Guldur to grow at such an exponential pace. Soon they would be travelling south with the armies under his command. His guidance.

It all came at a cost. The fires had to be fed; the faults would widen and spread. All that was green in the world would fall victim to the spread of industry and the power of the Dark Lord. And he, Lord Zabathôr of the Four, would be there at the forefront of the battle with his…

Truly, he did not know what he would have or whether he would ever see such a thing as actual war. Was not such a thing below a great Lord of Mordor? Surely it was so. And yet, he longed for a chance at glory. He long to be feared.

Dark Flight over Dol Guldur
One, two, three four. The Four Lords, not the Three Lords or the Two.

What fear would his name bring if all he was known for was succeeding where so many others had failed with the Flame? How is power and triumph shared among four? It was lessened to be divided so, yet Mordor created them. Made them into one, and without the whole, they could never achieve success. The Four Lords, not the Three Lords or the Two.

Two. One, two.

His thoughts drifted to the the author of the note and he looked down at it still in his hand. A poisonous wind tried to rip it from his grasp and he stepped back from the window brushing his pale hair from his eyes. Rereading the note, he crossed to his bed and pulled the cord to summon a slave or servant, whichever did not matter to him.

“Yes, my lord?” Collared and downcast, the woman stood with her hands clasped in front of her to support the chains that cut into her wrists.

“Summon Lord Pharazanû to me. I don’t care if he’s sleeping or eating or in the middle of plowing a dirty little imp like yourself. Now.”

The woman dipped into an obedient curtsy and hurried out the door.

Zabathôr tucked the note into a box sitting on the top shelf of his armoire. He slid out of his heavily decorated robes and into a more casual one.

He would celebrate the acquisition of Azulgar’s lover. But quietly, privately, and with caution.

He waited for Pharazanû to arrive.

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