Silmarillion Writers' Guild Most Sinister Villian

1. Hísimë

The assembled crowd fell silent as the lord Zîgur (1) raised his hands.

"I know that you have heard rumours," he said in a voice that betrayed his distress. "I will, then, tell you what is true. It is true that there has been an attempted assault on the King..."

The crowd gathered before the balcony began to murmur again, expressing shock and disbelief in hushed voices. Mairon allowed them to exchange their opinions for a while before he raised his hands again.

"There has been an attempted assault on our beloved King. Thanks to the valour of his Majesty's guards, it could be confounded. But the would-be assassin got away. We are told that our guards succeeded in severely wounding this man, but in the darkness of the night he nonetheless escaped. The danger has not yet passed, nor has the deed been punished." Again he paused so the crowd could take his words in. From the beggars living in the outskirts to the nobles dwelling in proud mansions close to the citadel, all had been united by concern or at least curiosity. He gave them an earnest stare, making each of them feel addressed directly. "Searches will be conducted throughout the city. I am certain that you will all do your utmost to help seize and punish this cowardly traitor, and will support his Majesty's guards in their search. If any of you find or hear anything that may be linked to this disgusting plot, I hope you will not hesitate to pass the information on to the watchmen." He unrolled a piece of paper that he had so far held in his left hand. "Here is a description of the culprit: 'A young man of narrow face, bright eyes, straight nose, dark hair of shoulder-length, wearing a loose undyed tunic and coarse breeches of dark grey or brown. Slender build, but broad shoulders. Dirty appearance. Armed with a dagger of good craftsmanship, either stolen or given to him by wealthy accomplices.'"

The various members of the crowd looked at each other. "Aside from the dagger, that description applies to almost any poor man in the city," a thin, dark-haired man shouted. He was indeed wearing a dirty, undyed tunic and breeches that might once have been black but had faded to a greenish grey.

"Indeed," Mairon said, giving the man an intent stare, and adding with a thin smile, "Pâmilthon." The man paled most satisfyingly as he heard that his name was known to the mighty lord. Mairon's lips curled scornfully. "I hope you spent the past night at home in your bed as you should."

If that was at all possible, Pâmilthon paled yet more. "My lord, I assure you—"

"Enough," said Mairon. "There is more. As you would know if you had listened better, the man was injured. Affirmed injuries are: blade cuts in various places, especially the arms. One arrow to the right shoulder, at least one more to the haunch." His gaze fixed on Pâmilthon again. "Perhaps you want to show us that you bear no such injuries?"

Pâmilthon's chin worked unhappily, and he gave Zîgur a defiant stare; but the crowd was now turning on him. "Yea, off with his shirt," somebody shouted, joined by others. Some began to push towards the poor fellow, and those closest to him reached out as if to seize him or tear the shirt off his back. Pâmilthon twisted out of their reach; then, coming to a decision, he took his threadbare shirt off, revealing a torso that was dirty but sported no injuries worse than one or two old scars.

"Good man," Mairon said without bothering to hide his scorn. Then he turned back to the crowd. "With the injuries the attacker sustained, it is unlikely that he will be walking the streets. We will have to search houses to make sure that he is not hiding in some cellar – or maybe being hidden by fools or accomplices. Has anyone here, by any chance, taken in an injured man last night?” He sent a searching look into the crowd. Vacant expressions. Of course.

“There are hints that the man we are looking for belongs to the sect of those who call themselves the Faithful." Mairon's distaste was clearly audible. "If any of you have neighbours who still... cling to the old superstitions, now might be a good time to question their true allegiance." Murmuring arose again, and Mairon allowed himself a moment of triumph. Within the next days, many people would denunciate others whom they knew or suspected to be of the Elf-friends. It was always good to know where his enemies lived. Even those who until now had gone undiscovered would doubtlessly be warned to tread carefully. Whoever the man in the gardens had been, he had done Mairon a great favour. It was all too easy to link a mysterious stranger to a plot of treason. That always enraged the masses, and their rage could be directed at the Faithful with next to no effort. It was almost too easy. Mairon was certain that by tomorrow at least a few of the foolish traditionalists would have been hunted by enraged mobs that suspected them of complicity with the unknown traitor. He smiled to himself.

"We will send messengers throughout the country so everybody will know how close Yôzâyan2 came to tragedy this night," he said, concern colouring his words. "Perhaps that will teach those who would sow dissent among his Majesty's subjects some moderation." There were cries of outrage and agreement, and Mairon smiled again. His enemies would have some sleepless nights at the very least.

"Any cues that lead to the arrest of the culprit or those behind him will be richly rewarded," he added by way of encouragement, already envisioning the chaos that would break out not only among the less well-to-do citizens. "I trust you all understand how important it is to solve this crime. If any disadvantages or discomforts arise for any of you, you must remember that it is for the good of your king and country." Again he gave the crowd an intent stare. "That is all."

"Long live the king!" one of the councillors duly shouted, and the rest of the crowd joined in. Mairon gave them the sort of smile a proud father might give his children before he turned and walked back into the palace.

"Whoever the coward was, my Lord, he will be found," he told the king, bowing low to hide the gleam in his eyes. "He cannot have come far. And we will make sure that no man dares to ever plot against you again. I shall dispatch the messengers at once, if it please you."

"I thank you, my Zîgur," Ar-Pharazôn said. "Would that all my noblemen served me so well as you."

Mairon bowed again. "Your Majesty is too generous in his praise."

- - -

(1) Zîgur is Sauron's Adûnaic name. Unlike Sauron (which he was named by the Elves, who did not like him much), it carries a rather more positive meaning: zîgur means "wizard", which contains the root "wise".

Sauron means "the Abhorred", and I rather doubt that Sauron would name himself that (or like being called that). When Sauron is not being addressed by Númenoreans, I here refer to him as Mairon. Apparently Sauron thinks in Quenya. ;)

(2) Yôzâyan: Adûnaic translation of Andor or "Land of Gift" – Númenor.

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