Child of Mordor - Seven
Neoresh followed Saruman doubtfully down the stairs of the tower. He had told her he had a surprise for her, and Neoresh had winced, disgusted at his servile attitude. He had been desperate to please her ever since Gandalf had escaped. She had snapped his spine in half with powerful words for destruction when she found out, but he had mended himself, if very slowly, and had brought down Caradras on the Fellowship that had been formed in Rivendell and forced them into the Mines of Moria. He had nearly killed himself doing it, but had told Neoresh that if there was anything else she needed he would do it. Neoresh had slapped him and told him to leave her alone.
A soft sound from below her on the stairs brought her thoughts smoothly back to the moment. Saruman had cleared his throat and was pointing to a cavern where she could see a few mangy Wargs, wolves of Mordor, fighting each other.
"This is your surprise?" she said softly, venom in her tone.
"No, milady. This is." And then he beckoned to an Orc hiding in the shadows.
The disgusting creature lumbered out of hiding and knelt awkwardly before her. Then it tugged on the leash it held and stood. A great patch of darkness separated itself from the shadow and pair of yellow eyes stared out at Neoresh.
The warg stepped out into the light, and had Neoresh been an ordinary maiden, she would have gasped at its beauty. It was blacker than night, and its great paws were silent, even on the hard marble of Isengard. She could see claws as long as a hobbit's hand stretch out from its feet and when it opened its mouth slightly, its teeth were even larger. Its eyes were a brilliant yellow that shone in the darkness. Neoresh was strongly reminded of herself, all black and deadly, except for that one spot that gave her away as more than just a murderous shadow. Her face and this creatures eyes.
She nodded briskly at Saruman, realizing he'd been talking to her.
"Yes," she said softly. "I have a name for you."
Saruman coughed when she did not speak for many minutes. "What name, my lady?"
"Gurthdae," she breathed.
Saruman stared. "But, my lady, that is Elvish," he said incredulously.
She turned slowly to face him, her face blank. "Yes, I know that, wizard," she said, her voice dripping poison.
"You are a fool. There is no way to communicate that which this creature is in any other than the tongue of the Elves. You are a foolish man if you spurn what your enemy has created even when it is in your favor." Neoresh had not changed her tone voice upon seeing the wizards fear. She rather enjoyed scaring him.
"Yes, lady," said the wizard, his breath coming in short gasps. "But what does it mean?"
Neoresh shook her head. She had put him off ease, and now he had forgotten a basic skill. Her power of him was astounding. "You speak Elvish, wizard. Discover it yourself when you are calmer. Now go, and leave me with Gurthdae."
Saruman staggered out of the hot cavern, sweating and gasping. He sank to the filthy floor outside it, his face ashen. Then his memory hit him. That name, Gurthdae. It meant Shadow of Death.
Neoresh found herself returning to her old ways. She stayed away from living things, and avoided Orcs at all costs. She sat in her window seat and stared at the midnight sky, or a thunderstorm. Never at just a sunny blue sky, for she found no inspiration in happiness. She contemplated her moves on this deadly chessboard in the darkness.
But she did not avoid Gurthdae. He was a wonderful creature. He had already killed seven Orcs, and it had only been two months. He had wanted to kill more, but Neoresh had stopped him. He growled, for he had wanted to make them suffer, but quieted under Neoresh's hand. She had also discovered that he was as quiet on his feet as she was, and the two of them had often ridden through what had been the forests of Isengard in the dead of night.
But now, in the snows of December, Neoresh felt something changing. She was edgy and nervous for days, and walked by herself through the caverns that Saruman had created. It was easy to ignore the Orcs now, because they were all afraid of her. Her and that black beast that killed them. So she could easily walk alone. But after a few days of almost moody behavior that frightened Saruman, she went to the Palantir.
The great seeing stone lay constantly covered now. Saruman had given up on using it for his own useless spying, and uncovered it only when he had to report to Sauron. But Neoresh used it quite often, as often as she could in fact. But it was no simple thing to get out of her rooms and down several flights of old, creaking stairs into the black chamber where the Palantir lay. And so it had taken her this long to find a time when she afford to scry.
She went without hesitation to Rivendell. She saw an Elf maiden weeping by a pool and calling out a name so softly that Neoresh could not hear it. But she did not need to. She knew that this maiden was Arwen, daughter of Elrond and Celebrian, and that she wept for her lover, gone two months with the Fellowship. Neoresh spared a moment on mocking sympathy for her, for she would never see Aragorn again.
Then she focused in deeper into her vision and began to search for the Fellowship. She moved slowly to Moria, and found them just entering. She choked. How could they have passed so far into the heart of the mountain without meeting even one of her father's creatures?
Then her eye was caught by a movement in the water. Aragorn, and another Man, saw it too and pulled the hobbits away from the water's edge. But Neoresh smiled viciously. It was the Watcher, an old creature of Morgoth's that had been left to die in the waters it guarded. One good thing Morgoth had done for her father.
She could not come close enough to physically control the watcher without transporting, and she had no desire to do such a thing. So she worked her way inside its mind, forcing it to move this was and that. Her father had taught her mind control when she was young and now she bent the Watcher to her will as if it were no more than a bit of cloth. It was stupid, even for its kind, and she had little trouble commanding it to kill. That was all it needed.
Neoresh pulled out of the creatures mind as fluidly as water, and just in time to see the Doors of Durin swing open. So wizard, she thought. You have unlocked a new toy. Much good it will do you. For at just that moment, the watcher had seized the Ringbearer by the leg and dragged along the pebbles at the water's edge to meet his death.
The Ring glowed brightly in Neoresh's vision. It lit the whole scene for her, even if those present could not see it all. Neoresh wondered for a minute if the Ring glowed this brightly in her father's eye. But as she thought of other things, her vision began to slip, and she refocused her attention on the doomed Fellowship.
But for the second time, she caught her breath in a painful rasp of surprise. The Men were destroying the Watcher with their swords, and the Elf fired arrows at it again and again. Neoresh stopped for a minute to look at Legolas, and she thought she saw his eyes focus on her, but then she jerked her attention back to the Watcher.
It was old, but it was stubborn and it kept fighting, but the battle was lost. Neoresh fought herself for a minute, wondering whether to enter its thoughts and control it again or to let it die. But she remembered that if she was in the mind of a creature when it died, she would go with it. And she felt her own will weakening as her strength ebbed away. So she pulled out of the vision as the whole Fellowship dashed unharmed into the Mines of Moria.
She fell onto her knees as she came back to the Chamber of the Palantir. The effort of scrying in one place for so long was exhausting. But it was crucial to know what had happened to the Ring and the fellowship when they entered the Mines. Neoresh had not looked inside the mines for many months, and she would need to know what she could do to stop them. But another scry for as long or longer than this one would take all her power and she would be useless in whatever happened next, and that would give Saruman, fully healthy, the upper hand. No, she could not do that.
There was always the chance that they would get themselves killed in the deathtrap of the Mines, but in such weighty matters, Neoresh could not afford to plan on their stupidity. They had survived the Watcher, and that meant that they had a fair chance to survive whatever lurked in shadows of Moria. So she had only one choice. She would have to transport.
It was a four day journey to the only way out of Moria, and the Fellowship would have no choice but to go that way. So she had enough time to pack what she needed and transport and rebuild her energy afterwards, and still head them off. But she would have to be fast. For there was something in Moria that she would have to awaken to defeat the Fellowship, most especially Gandalf. Something that Men and Elves and Wizards and Dwarves and even hobbits feared. Saruman put it best. Shadow, and Flame.