by Jan 3, 2005Stories


A wizened figure, with a great grey beard, clad in a pale-blue cloak raced across the desert wastes, his pale brown horse kicking up clouds of dust as it dashed across cracked earth that had not been tread upon by man or beast for a generation. Ahead of him there was another cloud of dust, one that was arising from the horse of a man dressed in black, a man who had once been his friend.
The man in blue tried to keep the painful memories out of his head…the ideological gap that had grown between him and his friend, the treachery, and the eventual betrayal that had nearly destroyed him. The memories came anyway, and they fed his righteous anger. He spurred his horse on, and the race continued.
The man in black looked nervously over his shoulder. He knew not where he was going; only that he could not allow the man behind him to catch up to him. Fear drove him, and shame, shame for his betrayal, and for his failure.
The man in blue – Morinhetar was his name, meaning Darkness-slayer – was one of the Istari, a colleague of Gandalf the Grey – now white – and Saruman, once also called the White, whose wayward spirit has now passed beyond the reaches of the world. The man in black was also one of the Istari, and was called Romestamo in ages past, which means East-helper in the tongue of the elves. He would say that he had lived up to his name, but many who suffered by his actions would say otherwise.
Morinhetar, taking the reins in one hand, took up the staff that had been lying across his saddle, and held it out to the side. The staff was simple implement: a straight, sturdy piece of wood, of a kind unknown to the men of the West. Holding his staff before him, his beard whipping behind him in the wind, he began to chant in an ancient language. The words echoed across the waste, magnified a hundred times. Romestamo cringed, and ducked lower to the saddle, cruelly jabbing his spurs into the sides of his panting horse.
As the words of power rumbled across the waste, great dark clouds began to gather overhead. Fat raindrops began to fall. Land that had not seen more than a few inches of rainfall a year since the First Age of Middle-earth were now about to receive a downpour of epic proportions. Wiping the water off of his face, Romestamo continued his mad dash. Up ahead he could see the dim outline of a gorge, or canyon of sorts. He made for that, urging his horse through means unknown to breakneck speeds.
Morinhetar was still chanting. His words rose and fell in tone, like a song, a great rumbling song, like the storm clouds above. Suddenly his voice rose to a shout, and a lightning bolt crashed next to the horse of Romestamo. The animal reared, and threw the wizard to the ground. Morinhetar spoke soothing words to his animal, and the beast stayed calm, and rapidly approached the prostrate figure.
Romestamo, recovering from the fall, cursed his fleeing animal, and turned to see Morinhetar bearing down on him. Raising his staff, a twisted rod of metal, he spoke a few guttural words in a black speech, and darkness covered the land. He fled into the shadowy mists, and passed beyond Morinhetar’s sight.
Morinhetar dismounted smoothly, spoke a few words to his beast, and turned toward the darkness. The beast walked away, torrents of rain pouring off of its sides until it disappeared into the darkness. Facing the unnatural mists, Morinhetar spoke again in the foreign tongue, and a great flash of light issued from his staff. The darkness was banished, and he saw his betrayer fleeing toward the gorge. He held out his hand and shouted sternly.
“Romestamo, stop! I would speak to you, whether you would speak to me or not!” the words rang with magic. Romestamo hesitated, began to look back, then abruptly turned back the way he was headed. His black cloak billowed out behind him as he ran. He disappeared into the canyon, and Morinhetar followed.
The canyon was deep, and dark, but there was a natural staircase in the cliff. Morinhetar hurried as fast as possible, but Romestamo stayed just out of sight. Thunder rumbled overhead, and the torrent continued.
Both wizards reached the bottom safely, and the pursuit continued. Romestamo stayed just beyond the next turn each moment, and Morinhetar was unable to speak to him, or put any manner of spell on him. So for the moment he just ran, and the dark walls of the canyon rushed by.
Romestamo ran, terrified. Morinhetar’s power had grown along with his fury, and Romestamo had never been able to match him in strength. He was beginning to understand how much peril he was in when the canyon ended abruptly in a sheer wall. Frantically, he looked for a means of escape, but there was none to be found. Romestamo turned to see Morinhetar rounding the corner.
“You have nowhere to go Romestamo, now speak to me. You have few other choices, unless you can grow wings and fly,” Morinhetar said, leaning on his staff. Romestamo snarled at him.
“What would you say Morinhetar? More talk of “right” and “good” and other ridiculous things? Would you tell me to change my ways, to give up my staff? I will speak with you, but only under great duress. You will get no more from me than I am willing to give,” Romestamo said, rain running down the crags of his face. There was a moment of silence, and thunder crashed. Then there was only the sound of rain in the desert.
Morinhetar suddenly looked very old, and weary, no longer the frightening and powerful figure he had been. “There was a time when you did not think such things ridiculous, a time when you could tell the difference between ambition and a lust for power. Do you not remember? We fought together in the Second Age, kept the vast armies of the East in disarray, as well we could, and allowed the men and elves of that time to defeat Sauron the deceiver. Do you not remember?” Morinhetar seemed to be pleading with Romestamo, but the man would not listen.
“Those times are in the past now. We were fools to fight against Sauron; he recognized his true might, and used it to his benefit. Had we fought with him, we might have been powerful as well,” Romestamo said, no longer spiteful and furious. Memories of ages past pained him, and Morinhetar knew it well.
“Romestamo-” Morinhetar began, but Romestamo interrupted him, furious again.
“That is not my name!” He shouted, “Pallando is my real name, and yours Alatar. We should not fear to use them, for we are Maia, greatest of the beings of this world, beneath the foolish Valar who sit on their thrones and leave the world untended. We should be rulers and kings, not helpers and counselors,”
“Only I know my true name, Romestamo, and I am no longer counted amongst the Maia. I will not return to Valinor,” He looked sad at this for moment. Then it was Morinhetar’s turn to be angry, “And to your foolish notions of lordship and dominion, I say this: dominion and control of another being can only bring pain, if wielded by one such as you. I cannot and will not allow a tyranny of death and pain Romestamo. It is not in Eru’s plan,” Romestamo snarled.
“I am only taking what is rightfully mine! It is the law of this land that the strongest take what they want, there is no other law. Your morality, your God is a sham Alatar, and you know it to be true. He does not touch this world anymore. It is a failed creation. We are left to our own devices and our own laws. We -” Morinhetar interrupted, furious.
“Is that what you were thinking when you sought to destroy me in the night? Are those the thoughts that motivated you and your band of sorcerous thieves to steal into my camp and murder my followers? Was that the logic that started the ten year struggle that shattered the Eastern nations and brought them all to ruin? If so then I brand you a simpleton, Romestamo,”
This was too much for the man clad in black. He shouted and thrust his wicked staff forward, but Morinhetar was prepared for the spell. The two men stood locked in a battle of wills, thunder crashing ominously overhead. A passerby would have seen nothing more than two men with long grey beards standing apart, fists and teeth clenched in concentration. They stood that way for a long time, as the storm raged on. Morinhetar was the stronger, but Romestamo was driven by desperate need.
Both men soon became aware of a rumbling sound and sensation. Loose rocks began to jump and rattle at their feet. Romestamo looked frightened, but Morinhetar smiled sadly.
“These lands have not seen this much rain since the First Age of Middle-Earth. The dry ground will not have it, and the water must travel somewhere,” The rumbling was growing louder.
Romestamo, in a panicked frenzy, broke the spell and rushed at Morinhetar. Morinhetar shouted a great word of power that echoed from the high canyon walls, and Romestamo fell in a heap, his staff clattering away.
“Your staff is broken,” boomed Morinhetar, his countenance growing, his once frail looking form becoming great and powerful, shining with a bright light. Romestamo’s staff shattered with a loud crack. “I name you Trustbreaker, and henceforward will you always be remembered that way, though your body will end its journey here,”
Romestamo just lay there, utterly defeated. Morinhetar sat wearily on a rock. He suddenly looked very old again, and he sighed audibly.
“I should not have brought you here Pallando, he said. I should have gone alone, and left you to pursue your works in Valinor, to walk the woods of Oromë with our master,” Morinhetar removed the tattered blue hat that had somehow remained on his head through the entire ordeal. The rumbling noise was deafening now. “But I was weak Pallando. I am sorry,”
A great wall of water rushed around the last bend of the canyon, and the Ithryn Luin were no more.


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