The Last of Sauron
“Most Reverend Lord -” a black blob of ink seeped into the paper as the quill, scratching the final curve of the last letter, snapped and broke.
“D-n the b-y thing!” croaked a deep, smoky voice and the quill was flung at the opposite wall.
A figure, roughly resembling the shape of a man, was sitting at a desk that was placed in a room walled with roughly hewn boulders, which were cracked and sooty. He leaned back, clenched his fists and took a deep breath. Both, the figure and the desk, had obviously seen better days. Both had an extraordinarily withered surface and seemed to have undergone ages of blatant misuse. But while the desk at least appeared to be made of some solid material, perhaps some kind of hard wood, charred with the years beyond recognition, the figure of the man seemed immaterial, like a cloud of dull grey, whose margins are not clearly defined and forever shifting.
You would have thought it was ghost, a wraith, the miserable remains of some condemned spirit that had refused to die – and you would have been quite right!
The figure rose from his creaking chair and slouched to the one small, glassless, south-west looking window, through which the light seemed rather reluctant to enter.
Again and again he had tried to write a letter to his former peers, to tell them what had happened and explain his situation.
Looking out from that window he could see a barren wasteland stretching out at the foot of the steep rock which formed the pedestal for his present residence, a square, dark stone building, too small for a castle, too large for a cottage, with a single turret in the north-east corner to highlight the bleakness and to mock the owner’s lack of importance. A sickening stench produced by the sulphuric substances that, continually vomited up from the underground, gathered on the bare, clotted ground rose to the window and mixed with the mouldering moisture from inside.
The figure grunted.
Once it would have pleased him. Destruction and misery of any kind used to be the main source of satisfaction for him. Now there was no delight even in this, be the land ever so lifeless, the air ever so noisome.
A cynical smile, void of amusement crossed his face and vanished. `Yeah, once…’
His eyes roamed into the distance as his mind returned to the past. `…once…’
But suddenly his gaze fixed on something near the horizon. He stood aghast and stared, stared for the longest moment in acute agony of realization.
There, on the slope of a hill that marked the limit of his vision, a stray beam of sunlight revealed a broad streak of bright, fresh green, faintly dotted with numerous other colours. It was, beyond doubt, a meadow, that had sprung there since last he had looked out.
He gave a roar of dismay and pain and turned from the window.
Pressing his fists to his forehead he began pacing the room.
How could things have gone so terribly, terribly wrong?
His mind raced, turning here and there, trying to put together the events of the past, to put memories in their place, memories of the last few years mingling with memories of thousands of years ago. How did it all begin – and how did he come to be where he was now?
He remembered a time when there was no earth and the minds of all the powers were bent on communicating in harmony following the guiding themes of Iluvatar – all the minds but one, Melkor’s. Most powerful himself, he did not see a reason to follow another’s lead and guidance, no need to submit to anyone, but rather to be himself sole leader and creator, following no rules but his own. How he had admired him! He, Sauron, was a lesser spirit, he didn’t have the power to plan and create anything on his own. He could only serve, although he hated it. But if he had to serve at all, it must be Melkor, who hated to serve even more than he, Sauron. And who had the will and the power to do as he pleased. And later, when Melkor found he didn’t really have the power to create on his own, and chose instead to destroy the pathetic works of all those servile nitwits, it had been a triumphant moment of discovering one’s true calling, of feeling, for the first time, the thrill and satisfaction of success!
`Ah, and how easy it had been! Those simpletons would build a thing and when they finished and left to build another, we, Melkor’s followers, would move in and tear it down – such fun!
Then, once this place, this Arda, had been wholly built (alright, they did finish it, in spite of all our destroying – strange, though, come to think of it!) – well, when all was built, suddenly there were those creatures, “children of Iluvatar” they called them. Such a respectful term, pooh! Ridiculous things they were, even weaker than the weakest of us Maiar. And such muddled minds. You just had to tell them a lie and they would believe it. The nastier the sooner they swallowed it. If you had told them the truth they’d have kicked you out and called you a liar. But tell them: your brother, though he has loved and honoured you all his life, is planning to steal your power or your jewels or your wife – and they’d knock beloved brother on the head and feed him to the crows! It was hilarious! We laughed till it hurt!’
A broad grin appeared on his face from the pleasure of the recollection.
It faded into a look of slightly dreamy puzzlement. – ‘How young the world was then! And all so full of energy, forever in turmoil, no end of beginnings and endings and revolutions, of turning all on its head and topsy-turvy. Sometimes those children would attempt to strike back, attack Melkor, and sometimes they even managed to pose a real threat. Their defeats just were the more devastating. Yes, the risings and the falls, all were mighty and seemed to shake the earth!
It made his head spin to think of it.
And then the strangest thing happened.
One of them came some day who was different. Didn’t trust in fighting, armament buildup. None of that `everyone for himself’-attitude for that one, no, he had to go, at no matter what expense to himself to see Manwe, said he was sorry – imagine that! And the idiots in Valinor, they always had a weakness for repentance. So they joined him and those creatures against us. Ghastly business, that. Melkor taken, banished, destroyed.
Don’t even remember how I managed to come out alright. I guess they didn’t think I was all that important. Ah, yes, so high and mighty you are, you overlook things, don’t you?
Then the one fleeting moment it crossed my mind to sue for peace. Shame on me! The moment passed quickly enough, though. I knew I could do better than that. I had learned everything from Melkor. I knew I could do just as well as he!
After all, Melkor himself had set me up for his steward. Had said, you know me well, and my desires, my plans and how I put them in practice. You carry on in my name. Do your job for you, eh? Sure, anytime, don’t you worry, your Lordship! – Fool, did he think I learned so little from him? A kick in the butt for faithful service, that was his practice. So, I did carry on – but not for you, my lord, for me, for me alone!
I knew to gain power. I attracted followers. I bound them to me. I made the ring.
What a feeling, to see them come crawling to me. I – their Lord and Master. And no servant to no one. Not once did I think of Melkor in the days of my power. Except to laugh at how he thought I still worked for him.
Ok, I wasn’t as powerful as I should have been.
Who would have thought those earthlings could get their wits together for long enough to put up a battle against me instead of against each other? But triumph in defeat was mine! Though my physical existence was destroyed, my spirit lived – and it was one those blockheads who kept it alive. He put on my ring. Thought he could make it his. Oh, the thrill when I realized his foolishness!
But he was ambushed and the ring fell into the water – darn piece of bad luck, that. I mean, here we are, trying all we can to make those idiots go against one another and when they do, we almost get killed ourselves. I ask you.
But I have all the time in the world. I was a bit lost for a while, I admit. So what? Time passes and I continue. One day I sort of wake up again. A strange creature finds the ring. It didn’t take much corrupting to make him mine – as soon as he saw the ring he was ready to kill. And such a small creature it was, such a little thing. – I still chuckle when I think of it
I get all hopeful – things are looking up, and all. But no, nothing happens really. Can’t make out where the blasted thing is for ages. Been kept in a cave for a time, I know now.
When it got out finally – that’s when everything started to go really wrong. Yes, I see that now. My poor ring, this other creature grabs it – and nothing happens! He should have killed the bloke that had it before, just as it was the time before that and before. But no, he goes and pities the other one! Whatever that might mean. Still, he takes it home alright, so at least it got out of the stupid cavern.
Every now and then I could feel its activity. So I grow stronger with knowledge and hope, and I gain followers, more and more they come to me, looking for someone to make them powerful, the fools. Useful they are, but what power I gain is mine and stays mine. What could possibly make them think I’d share with creatures that are ready to submit everything to me? Stupidity beyond comprehension. Serves them right, though.
So, by using all my newly-gained influence I find out where they keep my ring. Only, by the time my messengers get there, they are carrying it somewhere out of sight and I have to keep looking. It’s as if they’re playing hide-and-seek with me. Someone warned them, told them all about me -.
Oh, why not just say it: I know this someone well enough and I’ve known him for as long as I can remember.
Olorin – I shudder at the name – a Maia like me, but nothing like me, no, urgh, the most disgusting do-gooder I’ve ever met. And I’ve met some pretty disgusting goody-goodies! Even in the very beginning I hated him. I told him of Melkor, how I admired him, and how I hoped to be admitted to his service. He said, don’t do that, Melkor is wrong, he’ll be ruined and you with him. I say, how can you think that, Melkor is the most powerful there is and we’re going to have real fun – as though he knew anything about that, the old weepy-head, going on about, ‘oh, I know what you feel’ and ‘maybe you don’t see that now but one day you will’. I wanted to punch him on the nose – well, I think I did punch him on the nose once.
“You’ll see, all the nasty things you do will turn against you one day.” Those were his exact words. I can still hear him as if he’d just said them. Confound him, he’s ruined my life, spoiled all my fun and all the successes I ever had! I never could forget what he said much as I tried. And the worst is – he was right. I don’t know. It’s the only explanation, really. It wasn’t my fault, anyway. Not that I’d know of. Didn’t make any mistake that was likely to be fatal. It just happened. I mean, I made the ring to make everybody greedy for it, to make them fight and kill for it. And that’s what they did. Not my fault the slimy coward fell into the pit. He wasn’t meant to. He wasn’t meant to be there in the first place. The other little fellow should have brought it back to me. At least that’s what I’d have expected to happen once I found out what was going on, that the little fellow was walking right up to my doorstep with the ring on him. Ok, I admit it was very late indeed before I did find out – in fact, he was already coming up the front yard, so to say, when I first noticed. But you must understand -I just couldn’t bear looking upon that fellow. I tried, of course I tried. I had my eye upon him as often as I could. I saw him – and when I say that I mean I really saw him, heart, mind, past and present – and it turned my stomach! You’d have to have seen him yourself, I guess, else you’ll think I’m crazy. But it’s true. I got sick each time I looked on him. There was all this kindness and patience and love and wisdom – urgh, I feel sick again just remembering!
Still I might have succeeded if it hadn’t been for another little guy who was with him. I didn’t get to see him so close, but he was just as bad, I know, maybe worse. Because he seems to have been a servant and the other guy, the one who had the ring, his master. My ring, even though it didn’t succeed in spoiling his character, sure drained his strength. He’d have just dropped dead sometime once he got near my realm and the ring noticed it couldn’t command him. But the other fellow dragged him through. I mean, who ever heard of such ridiculous behaviour? If you are serving some master and you see he’s getting weak, you see to it that you lose him or get rid of him, save yourself or take the opportunity to get yourself in the lead – like I did. Everyone knows that that is what you do.
And I did activate all the power of the ring once I’d noticed the fellow was getting near. It did gain power over him – at the last minute it was accomplished, I’d have won, I should’ve won but for the appearance of that other little creep who should have been dead ten times before. But no, we are patient, we are kind, we don’t want to cause misery, we can feel what you feel and we can understand – it was like Olorin all over again!
Only, if it had been him I’d have known sooner. These little ones – who thinks of them? Come on! You wouldn’t have considered them either. And Olorin was getting up everybody else against me, they were destroying my armies, in fact creating diversion everywhere. Even I can’t be in all places at once.
And so it happened. The ring fell into the pit and was destroyed. And my power broke like a bubble. I thought I’d go down completely.
I don’t know why I didn’t. But fact is I’m here now – or what’s left of me. …..
And I’d really appreciate it if you could help me out, d–it!’ – His thoughts had returned to the present. For the umptienth time he contemplated calling on someone, anyone. Other Maiar or Valar he had known, former friends and former enemies. Numberless times had he sat at this desk and thought about writing a letter to them. But what would he say in that letter? Explain everything that had happened, the way he saw it? And what would he ask of them? To be received again into their circles? For his former friends, to come with an army and rebuild his power? Indeed, what could he expect? Why should anyone help him? For former allegiances? For pity of his fall? This was ridiculous! He, Sauron, himself would have kicked everyone out who came to him with such a preposterous idea.
No, it was all hopeless.
He might just sit here, and watch the grass and the flowers and the trees coming back! Maybe, if he was lucky, he’d fade completely one day and have done with it. But, then, he didn’t seem to be the lucky kind…
He gave a short mirthless laugh in final acceptance of defeat.
Then he returned to the desk, took a new quill from its stand, sat down, dipped the quill into the ink and wrote on the sheet with the blotted address just two words: