What does it mean to belong to the darkness?
I have fallen into this shadow world, fallen to greys and pale whites, until the mortality that was mine seems to be stripped away as clearly as any memory of the finer colors. All is dark here, even my self. All, except fire.
I can see it from where I stand, a flaming red beast as it crawls and twines madly in on itself in the dell below; the only light in this world of mine, the only light that could ever reach me.
Perhaps had I spent my time in other pursuits when I was still alive there would be another light. Perhaps I would not be caught in this world of power, where only elves and fire give any illumination. But I had not. There are five of us now, on the lip of this dell, five blacker shadows against the dim night. There are five of them as well, each only another blurred grey form beside that writhing fire. So small, and so helpless, these mortals look through my veiled eyes. Was that how I was as well?
But I am not here for their pity or for my own; I am here for the lock that binds me to my Master, the other end of that fiery chain. I can feel my Ring, one of the Nine, burning, ever burning, with need and desire and… hope? I cannot remember what hope felt like. The One was so very close, and it drew all my thoughts.
They must have seen us then, the two of us on the edge, the three who advanced, seen us as a black and darksome , an image born of nightmares and come forth from the grave. Two fell flat; a third cowered. But the fourth… the fourth…
It is he, of course. The thought races like lightning from brethren to brethren as our thoughts converge on him.
Put it on… the Ring… wear it… do not account for these penniless warnings of others… the Ring must be worn…
He is strong, as we know he must be to have even come so far, but only a poor mortal, too weak to stand between five of my brethren and their Master, between our Rings and the One. That small grey shape from another world became painstakingly clear to us as he passes from his sight to ours. I can see the pure in his eyes as he sees us for the first time as we truly are.
Do you not now see, I would have called to him mockingly, what twisted forms our emptiness hides? But I am diverted. Only this one small figure stands between me and the reunion of my Ring with His.
For there, on the left forefinger of this intruder in the shadow world, burns the Master Ring. A band of fiery orange-red. Even from here I can read the runes, elvish runes of power written in the Black Tongue, a merging of two opposite forces in this world; runes of power that bind me in my quest for it.
There can be no hesitation. I spring forward, drawing knife to match my blade; it is time to reclaim that chain of power for its rightful owner. But out of my dark threat a clear cold voice came crying:
“O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!”
It is as if the late sleeper, rising to peek between the curtains, desirous of the beauty of the stars, is smitten instead by the fury of a new-risen sun.
I cry out, part in pain, part in despair, a wail that conveys all to my brethren, but to mortals imparts only fear. My downward stroke went wide, the pale knife blade only scoring into his left shoulder.
I would have stopped, if I could, and struck again, reclaiming the Ring and turning back to my Master. But the fire blossomed anew in the hands of the final figure as he leapt forward, and I turned to vanish again into the night. Even so the Ringbearer managed to draw off the Ring, that portal between our worlds, and vanished, returning to his own. But wounded…
It was only then that I saw the rent in my cloak, where the mortal’s puny blade had raked it. A cloak is nothing to me, and I let it fall, the broken blade of my notched knife along with it, its point lodged somewhere in the shoulder behind me.
Perhaps the next attack could wait, then. Soon enough I would be able to see the Ringbearer in my world, even without the Ring. A mortal, just another candle to be ed in a world of darkness.
Welcome, I told him softly, knowing that he could not yet hear. Welcome.