was something completely foreign about a woman sitting with the men at the
Council of Elrond. Hell, it was usual to see women sitting with men at all.
Very few races actually saw men and women as equals. The whole situation made
many of the members of council uncomfortable, but that didn’t stop you from
sitting there doing your best to stay focused. You were appointed by your small
kingdom to attend the council for the ring, because you were the best warrior
and leader in your kingdom.
Elrond spoke you could feel the eyes of men on you. The appointed attendant from
Gondor’s stare was especially uncomfortable.
one of your closest friends sat beside you. You could see that he and Aragorn,
who stood beside you in many battles, were communicating in a way you learned
that only they could truly understand.
continued to look at the faces of all the males around you. You rested on the
small hobbit and gave him a kind smile when he spared a glance at you. You
heard that the hobbit along with his friends were brought here by Aragorn.
Arwen had said that he was very ill at the time because he had been stabbed by
a Nazgûl. You had to admit, for such a small race, hobbits were sure resilient.
Gondor man’s attention still ran over your frame causing you to shift slightly
in your seat. Luckily, his attention was snapped away from you when Elrond
asked the hobbit, Frodo, to bring the Ring to the pedestal.
hobbit walked slowly, but with great burden as he set it down in the center for
all the eyes of the council to gaze upon. As you looked upon the ring,
frustration welled in you. There was no reason for such a simple piece of metal
to hook all these people under its spell. It was an ordinary ring infused with
power, and that was the fault of men. Their desire for power was always their
escaped the mouths of many in the council. You watched the hobbit return to his seat. His
shoulders relaxed, and his face calmed as he settled in. His job was done. He
would no longer have to carry such a heavy burden. Around you the members of
the council all gazed upon the ring. Some as if it was sent from the heavens,
others with distain, and many just curious.
Gondor appointed member stood and approached the ring mumbling about a dream. The
sky grew dark as he almost touched it when both Gandalf and Elrond yelled at
him to stop. They spoke his name, Boromir. You repeated it in your head to remember
who this troubled man was.
stood reciting something that you didn’t understand as Sauron spoke through his
ring. Sauron’s voice rung out. You winced at the pain that filled your chest as
Sauron’s words continued. Looking around, you could see that you were not the
only one feeling this way.
takes his seat as the sky returns to its bright color. Looking to Elrond, he
before has any voice uttered the words of the tongue here in Imladris.”
do not ask your pardon, Master Elrond, for the Black Speech of Mordor may yet
be heard in every corner of the West! The Ring is altogether evil,” Gandalf
says gruffly. You look to the gray wizard who nods towards you.
few months back a similar situation took place in your kingdom during a celebration.
Gandalf had explained to you want was going on and you had left home to come to
Rivendell to offer your help. That’s why you were here today.
is a gift!” Boromir protested standing up. “A gift to the foes of Mordor! Why
not use this Ring?” - He started pacing the floor- “Long has my father, the
Steward of Gondor, kept the forces of Mordor at bay. By the blood of our people
are your lands kept safe! Give Gondor the weapon of the enemy. Let us use it
had to stifle your laugh at Boromir’s self-righteous preaching. The time was
not fit for this reaction, but your laugh was one of pity for Boromir’s ignorance.
He spoke of this curse as if it was some majestic answer. Aragorn could no longer
hold his tongue.
cannot wield it! None of us can. The One Ring answers to Sauron alone. It has
no other master,” Aragorn said. A faint smile rested on your lips as you looked
at the man with a sense of pride for the ranger.
what would a ranger know of this matter?” Boromir said. Your jaw clenched at
his uniformed statement. The pure stupidity of Gondor’s people about their king
was astonishing. Beside you, Legolas stood up from his seat in anger.
is no mere ranger. He is Aragorn, son of Arathorn. You owe him your allegiance,”
Legolas spat at the ma. You reached out to Legolas and gently laid your hand on
his forearm. You had spent a significant amount of time with Legolas over your
years. You found that a simple touch from you would help calm his nerves at
Boromir said. His eyes roamed over Aragorn in astonishment. “This… is Isildur’s
straightened himself and held his head high. He was the rightful king and he
showed it through his every action.
heir to the throne of Gondor,” Legolas added. You squeezed his arm just a
little bit. And he took a step back closer to you.
the corner of your eye, you saw Frodo, who sat beside next to Gandalf, look to
Aragorn with wide-eyes.
“Havo dad, Legolas,” Aragorn waved his
hand dismissively (translation: sit down Legolas). Boromir looked to Legolas
has no king,” He spoke trying to gather his pride. With a heavy breath, Legolas
returned to his seat beside you. You ran your hand down his arm into his hand.
He laced his finger into yours as he struggled to contain his anger.
needs no King,” Boromir looked to Aragorn this time This man’s arrogance
brought anger to you, but you punched it aside. Now was not the time. Taking a
deep breath, you stood.
speak truth,” you said silencing all the men. “The Ring answers to only one
master. No other can yield it. Your need for power blinds you, Boromir, son of
Denethor II. We cannot use it.”
would you know of this?” Boromir said standing again. “You are but a woman who
knowns not of the wars of men.”
know not of what you speak,” Legolas said attempting to rise. Again, you lay a
hand on his arm. He looks to you searching your eyes, but remaining seated.
am a woman, but that doesn’t not make me naïve to the ways of war,” you speak
louder with more confidence. “I am Y/N, daughter of Heranah, chief warrior and
next in line for the crown to the kingdom of Nuverah, a small kingdom of elves
bordering Lindon. I fought amongst men in many battles and plan to fight for
many more. My fate is just as much tied to this land as yours and I here whether
you like that or not. Now be seated while the discussion of the rings
destruction takes place.”
your words the rest of the council was quieted. Boromir sat wordlessly down. You
also took your seat. Legolas’s hand found yours intertwining your finger
silently. Neither you nor him looked to the other as Elrond continued.
have only one choice. The Ring must be destroyed,” Elrond said. All eyes feel
upon the ring where it sat untouched.
are we waiting for?” said a dwarf. He took his large axe and approached the pedestal
yelling. He brought the blade to the ring only for the blade to shatter with a
move to shield your face as a shard of the axe comes flying towards you. You
feel Legolas’s free hand come to your cheek in before moving away as quickly as
it came. You opened your eyes to see that many shards of the axe lay around the
ring. The dwarf had fallen to the ground breathing heavily and Legolas’s hand
was now bleeding just a little, but you could do nothing for it.
“Diola lle,” you speak softly into the
elf’s ear (translation: thank you).
“Lle creoso, Melamin,” he said just as
quietly (translation: you’re welcome, my love). You both returned your
attention to the Ring.
saw that Frodo was in some sort of pain as his face contorted and he grabbed
his head. Gandalf turned to Frodo, but could do nothing as more words came from
came to the aid of the one who was now lying on the ground.
Ring cannot be destroyed, Gimli, son of Gloin by any craft that we here
possess,” Elrond said. “The Ring was made in the fires of Mount Doom. Only
there can it be unmade. It must be taken deep into Mordor and cast back into
the fiery chasm from whence it came. One of you must do it.”
scanned the faces on all the people surrounding you. Everyone was quiet.
does not simply walk into Mordor,” Boromir said. Everyone listened worriedly. “Its
black gates are guarded by more than just orcs. There is evil there that does
not sleep. And the great Eye is ever watchful.” -Frodo looked terrified as he
spoke- “It is a barren wasteland. Riddled with fire and ash and dust. The very
air you breathe is a poisonous fume. Not with ten thousand men could you do
this. It is folly!”
startles you as he jumps to his feet.
you heard nothing Lord Elrond has said? The Ring must be destroyed!” the anger
he held for Boromir leaked into his words.
I suppose you think you’re the one to do it?!” Gimli said. Aragorn rolled his
eyes and you clenched your fist.
if we fail, what then?! What happens when Sauron takes back what is his?!” Boromir
said. He was very pointed with his words.
will be dead before I see the Ring in the hands of an elf!” Gimli roared
getting to his feet.
time many elves got to their feet yelling. You stood and tried to help Legolas
hold them back. It wasn’t long before everyone was on their feet yelling at
others from a different race. You stayed silent as you stood in the way of an
elf and a dwarf. Gandalf got up as well
and his voice was added to the mix.
looked over to Frodo to see how the hobbit was doing. He was staring at the
ring in trance. Frodo’s breath was labored and he tensed up. You slowly tried
to push through the crowd to reach him, but everyone was pushing back. You saw
the Hobbit get to his feet.
will take it,” the hobbit said. “I will take it.”
one else heard that you could tell because the chaos persisted, but you stopped
in your path to him. Gandalf closed his eyes. He looked disappointed. You could
tell that Gandalf cared for the Hobbit as he turned to look at Frodo.
will take the ring to Mordor,” Frodo said. Everyone fell silent and looked at
the Hobbit in shock. Aragorn had a sense of respect cross his face. “Though… I
do not know the way.”
will help you bear this burden, Frodo Baggins, so long as it is yours to bear,”
Gandalf stood beside Frodo and laid a hand on his shoulder.
by my life or death, I can protect you, I will,” Aragorn said standing and
walking towards the hobbit.
too will carry as long as you will have me,” you said stepping forward. You
offered a smile to the hobbit which he returned with a nod. You came to stand
beside Frodo offering a smile to Gandalf.
have my sword,” said Aragorn getting on his knee to be at eye level with Frodo.
looked to Elrond and nodded. Elrond looked impressed as the scene unfolded in
front of him. Legolas looked to you before speaking up as well.
you have my bow,” Legolas says coming to stand beside you. You captured his
hand in yours and gave it a small squeeze.
my axe,” Gimli said proudly.
shoulder’s fell at Gimli’s words. Gimli returned the look, but stayed in his
spot beside Legolas.
carry the fates of us all little one. If this is indeed the will of the council,
then Gondor will see it done,” Boromir approached the group slowly which you
were disappointed about. You looked at the men around you, but saw a small
movement in the bushes. A small sound rose up as another hobbit made his way
Frodo is not goin’ anywhere without me!” the second hobbit said. He came to
stand next Frodo holding his head up high.
indeed, it is hardly possible to separate you even when he is summoned to a
secret council and you are not,” Elrond said laughing.
two more Hobbits come running over. You look to Legolas and offer an assumed look
gesturing to the hobbits. Legolas let out a small laugh and nodded.
We are coming too!” The two hobbits said.
have to send us home tied up in a sack to stop us!” one said.
smile stretched across your face as they came to stand in front of you. Elrond
seemed shocked that more Hobbits were still coming. He also seemed a tad
worried as his eyebrows creased deeply. Legolas squeezed you hand bring your
attention to him. You smiled at him and he returned the smile again. The two
new hobbits had their arms crossed over their chests and were glaring at Elrond
as if they were challenging him to tell them they couldn’t go.
you need people of intelligence on this sort of mission, quest… thing,” the
other said. You laughed a little. Gandalf
looked like he was embarrassed about bring these hobbits there. You wanted to
laugh at the face that he was making.
that rules you out Pip,” The first said. He looked really annoyed with his
comrade as if his statement had lessened their cause. You placed your hand on “pip’s”
shoulder and squeezed it. He looked up at you with a smile.
companions… So be it! You shall be the Fellowship of the Ring!” Elrond spoke
loudly booming over the crowd. He seemed so proud of the name he had come up
with. The latter two hobbits looked at each other joyously.
Where are we going?” said “pip.” Everyone turned to him and their faces fell.
Frodo looked like he was going to laugh at his companion. You just shook your
Shadow of War’s Nazgul designs are really struck me as unique, and even including few of their own spins like Helm Hammerhand, Sulidan and Isildur.
Though from what I’ve seen the rest with the exception of the Witch King have the same Mask, so I made a few to correct this. Given them their own weapons and a couple bits of my own ideas to add to their distinction.
Some of their titles where inspired by the Games Workshop models.
The Witch King of Angmar: Weapon: Mace
First of the Nine and Saurons most deadly servant who no man can kill.
Helm Hammerhand: Weapon: Hammer
King of the Mark whose legacy is one of tragedy and vengeance.
Isildur: Weapon: Sword
High King of Gondor. The one who cut the One Ring from Sauron’s hand and whose weakness doomed himself and those after him. Corrupted by it’s influence in life he now serves it’s master in death.
General of a Bygone Age. When his armies marched on the Dark Lord Sauron deceived him through an unexpected surrender. In time he turned from Prisoner to Advisor.
The Shadow Lord: Weapon: Spear
The Shadow Lord was once the king of a small and insignificant kingdom. When Sauron offered him one of the Nine Rings, the promise of its power proved irresistible. Now, his physical being all but gone, and his will enslaved to Sauron, the Shadow Lord wears his dark pride like a cloak, blotting the sun from the sky and dimming the sight of his foes.
The Dark Marshal: Weapon: Polearm
In the centuries since the Dark Marshal and his fellow kings became Ringwraiths, he has become even more sadistic and malicious. The most black-hearted and unrelentingly cruel of all the Nazgûl, his name is a byword for misery and death. Where the Dark Marshal passes, Evil creatures fight harder, fearful of their lives whilst Good warriors feel the icy touch of death upon their hearts.
The Betrayer: Weapon:Axe
The Betrayer was cursed long ago for yielding the Southlands to Sauron’s rule. The Betrayer is driven by malice and self-hatred that knows no bounds. Of all the Nazgûl, the Betrayer is amongst the lowest of Sauron’s lieutenants, for even the Dark Lord is leery of placing faith in one who betrayed his kin so readily.
(He appeared to me as a Haradrim, so I gave his axe an exotic twist to reflect that it came from a culture of Beast Masters. Likewse with his mask’s Horns)
Khamûl The Easterling: Weapon:Trident
Lieutenant of Dol Guldur, Khamûl is second amongst the Ringwraiths, a dark terror clad in an impenetrable shroud of cloth and armour. The knowledge of how he came into the service of the Lord of the Rings has long been lost, though a few of the Wise believe that he once ruled a land beyond Mordor’s eastern boundaries. This at least must be partially true, for only a king of great influence would have received the tainted gift of a Ring of Power. Other than this, little is known of Khamûl’s past save what he has done since in the servie of Mordor. Whatever the deeds of the man that he once was, Khamûl walks now only where Sauron bids him, his will bound solely to that of his dark master.
(He’s the one the said “Shire, Baggins.”)
Knight of Umbar: Weapon: Elven Sword
Like all of the Nazgûl, the Knight of Umbar’s past is shrouded in mystery. If the rumours pertaining to him hold any truth, he was once one of the great Númenórean kings who ruled the Southlands prior to the days of the Last Alliance.
(I gave him some Elven influence with a bit of Dark souls 3 Dancer of the Boreal Valley. Did he earn the respect and was gifted the sword? Or did he gain it through theft? The men of Umbar did go on to be corsairs after all, it must have started somewhere.)
Tallion: Weapon: Sword and Dagger
Last ranger of the Gondorians who protected the Black Gate. Banished from death through possession by the wraith of the Elf Lord Celebrimbor who likewise sought out vengeance for a family killed.
In time however it became clear to Tallion that the Bright Lord was but a foe of Sauron but a rival as well. Severing their alliance, the once again dying ranger took up the Ring that trapped the spirit of Isildur as a Ringwraith in Saurons service, Tallion resisted the Dark Lords influence for decades using the powers of this ring to keep the forces of Mordor fighting each other and delay Saurons invasion.
Though inevitably his will eroded and the Gravewalker joined the ranks of the Nine, replacing the High King that whom he freed. Perhaps the time his efforts had allowed the rest of Middle-Earth had granted them a chance of defeating the Dark Lord from a humble, unlikely source.
Imagine Haldir kissing you in the rain in the battle at Helm's Deep
You moved swiftly through the gathered men, sword at your side, prepared to defend Helm’s Deep with your life. The battle had started only a few minutes ago and already so many had fallen. The never ending volley of arrows from the elves provided a brief period of respite for those on the wall, although danger was ever present.
In the Hobbits’ meeting with Faramir in Two Towers we see echoes of the Three Hunters’ meeting with Eomer:
Travelers on a quest must negotiate to remove their status as trespassers
The heir of the throne has a private conversation with them and must make the difficult choice between what is lawful and what is ethical
Hot-headed subordinates express their displeasure at the other side’s disrespect before the leaders negotiate above their heads.
Faramir, just like Eomer, chooses to somewhat defy the law and allow Sam and Frodo safe passage through Ithilien, and even helps them by giving them food and a safe place to rest, and refraining from killing Gollum.
Although Faramir’s conversation with Frodo is all about comparing and contrasting himself with Boromir, I think that comparing him with Eomer is also an interesting exercise:
Faramir and Eomer are both second heirs who must take command after the first heirs are killed by Orcs/Uruk Hai.
When faced with a conflict between what is right and what is lawful, they manage to winnow a middle option into the picture by invoking their own authority to allow the questing people leave to pass through their lands.
They also cover their asses by saying that the visitors should come to the King at a later date in order to have their visitor’s pass officially stamped.
They show that they are able and committed military leaders with organized and competent troops.
Both of them exist in a state of hopeless defiance because of the encroaching forces of Mordor and the lack of leadership on the throne of their nation. (At least until Aragorn shows up.)
The most visible difference between Faramir and Eomer seems to be their personalities:
Eomer is perhaps prouder (his highest praise for Boromir is that he was more like a man of Rohan than a man of Gondor), and he seems to have more of a sense of humor (one of his first lines is a short joke aimed at Gimli).
Faramir, though not without humor, seems graver, and more impulsive in his desperation (e.g., at first he forgets to wait until he has the hobbits alone to question them about confidential matters, whereas Eomer makes that decision early on in his meeting with Aragorn). He also appears to be more learned (thanks to the stewards’ private library of historical documents) and maybe a little more intelligent. (This is not a knock against Eomer, who seems plenty smart—it’s just that while he was questioning Frodo, Faramir made a hell of a lot of clever inferences that ended up being mostly correct, which I thought was impressive.)
I love that although Faramir and Eomer play very similar roles in the narrative of The Two Towers, Tolkien manages to make them both so distinct and likable in their own ways.
Somewhere in the infinite possibilities of the multiverse, there is a small pocket dimension that has a single planet and four unlikely enemies.
The names of these enemies are: Sauron
The Borg Queen
Each of these villains was pulled from their respective realities to this world with no heroes and no civilians. Each one has been told that the only way to return to their world is to destroy all of their enemies on this one.
Each villain was brought here at the height of their power, and they are not alone. Each of them has been given a continent on this planet, modeled after the places they call home. They also have every ally, minion, and slave that was ever theirs to command.
Let’s take stock of these armies…
Sauron - Whole and corporeal, Sauron possesses his precious One Ring and all the forces of Mordor. Not only does he command his orcs, trolls, and the Nazgul, he also has the army of Balgrogs that followed him during the First Age. Also on this world he has his servant Saruman and their spy Grima Wormtongue, as well as all men who ever served him.
Emperor Palpatine - Though unable to leave the planet (or blow it up with the Death Star) the Emperor has no shortage of resources. His entire continent is modeled after the imperial city-planet of Coruscant and it is full of clone troopers, storm troopers, and battle droids (with all battle accessories and vehicles included.) In addition, the Sith Lord has every one of his Sith apprentices alive and present for the conflict, including Darth Maul, Count Duku, and Darth Vader. General Grievous is also at his command, along with Boba Fett and every other galactic bounty hunter ever employed by the Empire.
Voldemort - While “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” has the entire continent of Europe as his territory, the majority of his forces are concentrated in England. While there are no good wizards to oppose him or Muggles to oppress, everything else is there. Diagon Alley, Gringott’s, the Ministry of Magic, and even Hogwarts are all present, as well Malfoy Manner. Every witch and wizard that was ever loyal to the Dark Lord is there, along with a whole host of other magical resources such as his snake Naigini, the basilisk from the Chamber of Secrets, dementors, inferi, giants, trolls, and werewolves. He is armed with the Elder Wand and each of his horcruxes is accounted for.
The Borg Queen - Like the Emperor, the Borg Queen is unable to leave the planet until all of her enemies have been destroyed, but she and her borg drones still have all of their other technological resources. An entire continent covered with the Borg Collective, and cube ships flying overhead.
So… who will be the victorious villain? What would such a battle look like? Which match ups would you most want to see? How long would the war last, and what would be the major turning points?!
Captain Derethor stood watch over the Harad Plains. The battlefield before them had the corpses of many Gondor soldiers, Haradrim and orcs alike. As long as he could hold the bastion here and eventually push his forces into mordor's flank, everything would go well. His hand and a half sword lay beside him as he sat on the Numenorean stone wall. "Change is in the wind..." He murmured as he picked up and stone and idly threw it.
The stone hit Catarina in the head, and she sat up, lavender eyes glaring at him. “Watch it!”
So, for context, here’s the time period we’re working with: In 1,700SA Sauron is defeated in the War Between the Elves and Sauron (thanks in very large part to the intervention of the Numenoreans.) And in 3,262 Sauron is taken to Numenor as a hostage, after surrendering to the force of Numenor’s military power. So, as for what Sauron was doing during that 1,500 years:
A lot of what Sauron was doing was rebuilding his forces after his devastating defeat in the War Between the Elves and Sauron. After the Numenoreans joined the war, it’s said that Sauron escaped with only his bodyguards and a handful of orcs. So his first order of business would be to build up his numbers again. And he was very successful, since Tolkien tells us that his orcs “multiplied like flies” during this time. On top of that, Sauron gathered “all the evil things of the days of Morgoth that remained on earth or beneath it” into his forces as well.
Aside from building up his forces in Mordor, Sauron also did quite a bit of expanding and conquering during this time. He completely controlled the lands east and south of Middle Earth. In fact, his power in those regions was so great that Sauron was both king and god to the men living there. And while he definitely controlled these regions politically and militarily, he also put some effort into affecting the culture there, introducing (and, probably, enforcing) the worship of Morgoth.
And Morgoth did actually control quite a bit of Middle Earth as well. While he couldn’t do much about Lindon, it’s said that “elsewhere Sauron reigned, and those who would be free took refuge in the fastnesses of wood and mountain”, which seems to imply that there were a few pockets of safety (likely wherever elves were) but otherwise Sauron’s influence was pretty much everywhere. With, after 2,798, one major exception (and this will answer the “why didn’t he conquer the west” part of your question, by the way.)
After 2,798 it’s said that Sauron withdrew all his forces and influence away from the coasts of Middle Earth. This was because Numenor had grown so powerful (and had that he didn’t even want to risk coming into conflict with them. And, as the Numenoreans had established several colonies along the coasts, the best way to avoid them was to avoid the ocean entirely. And, given what happened in 1,700 and 3,262, this was a wise choice on Sauron’s part. Even at the height of his military power (which, by the way, was probably during the War Between the Elves and Sauron, not after it), Sauron could not defeat the Numenoreans. So there was nothing to gain from trying to conquer areas protected by Numenor (which, because of the friendship between Gil-galad and the kings of Numenor, included Lindon.)
SOURCES: The Silmarillion, The Unfinished Tales (“Aldarion and Erendis”, “The History of Galadriel and Celeborn”), LOTR Appendices