Tale of the Dark Tree
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- Tale of the Dark Tree
- “I have forgotten my name. It matters not. The frail thing I was is best forgotten - a cage of flesh and blood. I have moved beyond it. I serve the Eye, though never have I beheld the Dark Lord. His day is yet far off, but that is well. There is much yet to do.
- When the Nine claimed Minas Ithil, I was there. I marched through its riven gates. I watched its towers darken, heard its people's cries of anguish. Such music. I serve the Eye, but only of late did I know my place in his designs. A priestess I was then, my knives red from work in his name.
- When Eärnur, that vainglorious fool, rode to the Dead City to challenge the Captain, I did not yet fathom the weaving of our fates. After they took him, the Nazgûl gave him to me. To me! The King of Gondor... its last, if the whispers were true. Never would I have dreamed of such an honour. Less still what was to come. For I was not to kill him; death was not their aim.
- 'If we wished him dead, he would die,' they whispered. 'A task awaits, one he alone can accomplish. You will compel him. Use all your skill.'
- The labours that followed were hard, their fruit disappointing. A King's screams, it happens, sound little different from any other man's. In the end, though, he did what the Nazgûl bade. When I was finished, he had become Mordirith... only a husk of despair, a wretched thing. But it sufficed.
- They turned him loose; not to return to Gondor, for he was too ruined even to want that any longer, but to flee into the mountains. The Nine knew what he would find. They knew a King's uses. For two thousand years the White Tree had grown in that hidden vale, beyond the ken of Men. He sniffed it out like a hound. When he saw the Nine had followed him, he clawed its bark, as if he might tear it down with his bloody fingers. I watched the Nazgûl befoul that Tree, reveled in the King's sobs as I beheld what their sorcery made of it: Morloth the Black, the Dire, the Profane.
- In our master's honour we built this fane, this Woeful House where I have ever after worked my craft. A shrine of pain, of tears, of mingled death and life. As reward, I was blessed to be the first to bleed there. I gave myself freely, gladly. I sang as I writhed in my throes before the Dark Tree. Even as I perished, I felt the Black Breath upon me. It held shut death's gates, unmade and made me again, in likeness to the Gaunt Ones of old.
- I have forsaken my name. It matters not, for I am named anew. I am Agath-kali, Shadow-woman, Mistress of Lamentation. And still I serve the Eye."