Silmarillion Writers' Guild Most Sinister Villian

2. Ringarë

Within a few weeks, the dungeons were full of suspects who had been accused of involvement in the plot. "Three-and-eighty," Ar-Pharazôn told Mairon, who of course knew the numbers already. "So many people who hate me! So many who would plot against me!" The look that he gave Mairon was full of hurt and confusion.

Mairon fought down his disgust. It was hard enough to keep up his act of eager servilitude under normal circumstances; it was even worse when the Númenorean king showed weakness. On such occasions Mairon's hands itched with the desire to overthrow the mortal. Patience, he told himself, patience, but he found it hard to listen to his own advice.

"It is unbelievable, your Majesty," he now said, forcing his voice to echo the confusion in the king's eyes. "Who knows what depravity dwells in the hearts of men?"

To be fair most of the arrested people were very likely innocent, but it was far too good a chance to get rid of some of those pesky Elf-friends. Every little helped, after all.

"Who indeed? And how shall we ever find out the full extent of this plot? Three-and-eighty people!"

"And that's only those who were caught on time," Mairon said encouragingly. "Who knows how many secret supporters..."

"Enough," Ar-Pharazôn interrupted him. "I do not wish to think on this any longer."

Mairon bowed low. "As you wish, dear lord, of course. I am afraid that you will have to think on it once more, though, for these traitors will have to be judged and punished..."

"Three-and-eighty," Ar-Pharazôn said again; then he slammed his fist onto the table. "No, I cannot imagine that so many people can be involved. Surely at least some of them were drawn into this by mistake..." He gave Mairon an imploring stare. Mairon very nearly cursed, and lowered his eyes so they would not betray his anger. Whenever he thought he had made some headway, the king's brain took another turn. Dealing with these mortals really should not have been this hard!

"And even if all of them are guilty, I cannot order eighty-three executions," Ar-Pharazôn said.

"Why not, dear lord? They are traitors. It would be justice."How hard it was to keep his voice humble, not to let his impatience register!

Pharazôn stared at him for a long while. "But Zîgur, you must realise what that would mean."

"That your enemies would never again dare to rise against you?" Mairon suggested in what he hoped was a harmless tone.

"Civil war!" Pharazôn retorted. "And rightly so! Three-and-eighty men -" he glanced down at the list of names - "and women cannot all be equally guilty, and if I were to have them all executed... my people would never take it."

Mairon almost groaned. Scruples, there were always scruples! Sometimes Ar-Pharazôn was more difficult to handle than most of the Eldar! Those had generally been easily impressed by displays of wisdom and lore and craft. With Pharazôn, on the other hand, it had for a long time been Yes, most intriguing indeed, and now take him back to his cell.

Well, at least those days were over – though, in Mairon's opinion, not nearly long enough. Nor had he been properly avenged. Patience, patience...

"I suppose you speak wisdom, lord King," he said demurely. "But then I am afraid these three-and-eighty cases all will have to be judged individually, and what with all the accusations and protests and evidence, that will take a long time – surely more than a year! And who will in that time rule Yôzâyan?"

"I will," Pharazôn said sharply, "and I will decide how to deal with the suspects. Enough of them, for now."

Mairon bowed his head yet again, swearing to himself that he would make the mortal king pay for wearing him out like this. "Of course, your Majesty."

"You had something else to discuss with me?"

"Ah, yes, your Majesty. I promised you to look for a place to build the great temple, if you remember...? Well, I found just the right location within the very walls of this city. Convenient, central, and the finished edifice could be seen from everywhere in Arminalêth – and beyond. A few houses would have to be pulled down, but I am certain that we could... encourage... their owners to relocate. So that should not be a problem. With your permission I could begin the work forthwith."

"Now? This late in fall? This is an ill time for building, you know," Ar-Pharazôn said with a slight smirk. Mairon hated him for that smirk, and for the unspoken words that stood behind it - What do you know of building, Maia?. Again he lowered his head.

"I was thinking only of your well-being, your Majesty. The sooner the temple is built, the sooner we can offer proper ceremony to the Giver of Freedom – and the sooner he may reward you..."

Ar-Pharazôn looked thoughtful, and Mairon felt the much-needed glow of triumph warm his heart. At least that ruse was working.

"I do not fear the difficulties of building in winter," he pressed on. "Everything to please you, my lord."

The corners of Ar-Pharazôn's lips curled up briefly – whether with pleasure or scorn Mairon was not certain. Had he overdone it?

But the king said, "I appreciate the sentiment. I merely wonder where you would find builders willing to work on such a huge building at this time of year."

Mairon pretended to ponder the question for a bit, pacing before the throne. Finally he looked up again. "I think I recall reading that the wharfs in Rhómenna were built by condemned criminals, as an alternative to... other punishments?"

"That is true. The great tower of Ar-Minulhâr (1) was built in like manner." Ar-Pharazôn gave Mairon a quizzical look. "Do you mean to suggest putting the imprisoned suspects to such use?"

Mairon put a thoughtful expression on his face. "Since you put it like that, my lord..."

"It is not a bad idea, I suppose. Not entirely just, since all would receive the same punishment regardless of their actual guilt, but it would save us the trouble of determining the extent of their guilt."

"That is what I thought, Majesty."

"And they would be set free after the building is finished, so no one could complain that we judged them too harshly."

Mairon blinked at that – he'd had no intention of setting people free - but masked his surprise swiftly, keeping his voice soft and encouraging. "As you say, my lord."

Ar-Pharazôn sighed. "Let it be done, then. I can entrust this task to you, I presume?"

"Of course, Majesty." Mairon bowed again, then hesitated briefly. Was the time right? He might as well try. "Oh, and if I might make another suggestion, my lord?"


"Perhaps it is time to set a sign – to discourage the traditionalist dissenters from further plots? Perhaps it is time to fell a certain tree..."

"Fell the White Tree?" The king was frowning deeply. "That is out of the question."

"Remember that the guard discovered the would-be assassin near that Tree! It is a symbol dear to the Elf-lovers, you must realise that. Lord King, while you are afraid to fell the White Tree the so-called Faithful will believe that you are afraid of them. Show them that it is not so!"

Ar-Pharazôn shook his head. "I see your point, my Zîgur, but it cannot be done. You may not know it, but my ancestor prophesied that the line of Kings would come to an end when the Tree perished..."

"I am aware of that, dear lord. But I also wonder. The White Tree-" he grimaced in distaste - "has not perished, and yet your line is sadly lacking an heir. Now your queen is almost too old to bear children..." Mairon saw the king's fists tighten in anger, and he hurried to continue. "But there are two readings for that prophesy, is it not so? One – which you, Majesty, appear to believe in – is that the end of your line means the end of your house's reign. But may not the end of your line mean instead that there is simply no need for heirs?" He saw confusion on the king's face, resisted the temptation to roll his eyes, and pushed on. "Why would Ar-Pharazôn the Immortal need to continue his line?"

"Ar-Pharazôn the Immortal..."the king repeated, longing in his voice. Mairon nodded encouragingly.

"And why should Ar-Pharazôn the Immortal set store by the superstitions of Ar-Inziladûn the Foolish?"

"Why indeed," Ar-Pharazôn muttered. "And the tree is half-dead anyway..."

"It is that, too," Mairon agreed eagerly. He had, after all, taken care that it should be so. He watched the king's inner struggle calmly – there was little doubt now that the king would follow his advice.

And he did. "You speak wisely, my good Zîgur,"Ar-Pharazôn eventually said. "We will fell the tree on New Year's Day."

- - -

(1) Ar-Minulhâr: Tar-Meneldur. "My" Ar-Pharazôn refuses to use Quenya even in retrospect, and has thus duly translated his predecessor's name into Adûnaic. Minal (objective minul) is provided by Tolkien (as in Ar-minalêth, Armenelos, or Minultârik, Mt. Meneltarma). The professor does not, however, give us an equivalent for Quenya -(n)dur, servant. So I shamelessly invented something. To make the -ntur/-ndur ("lord/ servant") dichotomy of Quenya at least vaguely translatable into Adûnaic, I came up with hâr as a counterpart for bâr. It might have been more correct to choose pâr to also maintain the minimal pair character of the Quenya example, but that felt too simple, and besides there is at least one example (sapda/sabda) where Adûnaic treats [p] and [b] not as separate phonemes but merely as allophones. In other words, pâr and bâr might not have been considered as two different words but merely as variants of the same word. That would've been kind of awkward, right? So hâr it is. For the sake of maintaining appearances, let's assume that the H here represents a bilabial fricative rather than our glottal fricative. Not that anyone is likely to care about all this anyway, you probably stopped reading halfway through the footnote. ;)

Leave a comment.

<< Previous Page | Next Page >>