Silmarillion Writers' Guild Most Sinister Villian

3. Narvinyë

It took Mairon a while to compose himself. Inside, he was boiling with frustration at being torn away from the rapidly progressing temple building. The construction site was his pride and joy, a place where he could almost feel as though he were back at home, with all his might at his disposal. Summons from the mortal king - urgent summons, moreover – destroyed that pleasant illusion.

His irritation was not at all allayed when he had entered Ar-Pharazôn's study, and had not been greeted with the usual indulgence but rather with a very grim look, and the words, "You took your time."

"I could not immediately get away from the building, your highness. I most abjectly beg your pardon if I have offended you."He bowed low. The king still wasn't appeased.

"Yes," he said curtly. "There are things we must discuss, concerning that building. I have had a letter from Aphanuzîr (1)..."

Mairon could not prevent that his eyes widened. As far as he was concerned, Amandil should not even dare to consider communicating with the king; certainly the king should not feel that he had to discuss things with Mairon after receiving a letter from him, except perhaps the best way of silencing the former lord of Andúnië forever.

"What does he want? He should take care of his injured grandson and not pester your Highness with letters." Mairon was not entirely certain that he managed to keep the impatience out of his voice.

"He has some protests to make concerning the building of the Temple..."

"Well, yes, of course he does. It is a temple to Melkor, and Aphanuzîr wants you to worship his beloved Eru," grumbled Mairon, and was silenced with a glare. To his disgust, he actually felt a rush of fear. Had that Faithful pest managed to turn the king against him again?

"He has kept silent on the matter of the Temple's purpose,"Ar-Pharazôn said, and the disapproval in his voice was unmistakeable. Mairon did not mind if the mortal king sounded disapproving, under normal circumstances. He did not like, however, when that disapproval was aimed at him – that should not happen, not anymore!

"What Aphanuzîr complains about," the king continued, "is your treatment of the workers." He gave Mairon another grim look, and Mairon swallowed his surprise, waiting instead. "He says that you keep them in exceedingly cruel conditions; is that true?"

Feigning ignorance, Mairon tilted his head. "I do not know what you mean by 'exceedingly cruel', lord King."

Ar-Pharazôn lifted the letter and read out, "'I hear that they are not only chained, but also kept naked at all times; that they are forbidden to speak, and beaten and tormented for trifles or for no reason at all; given no furs or blankets against the cold of night, and instead bedded on straw like oxen or swine, but without any of the care that we give our beasts; moreover insufficiently fed, and under most humiliating circumstances. I must beg my most noble King to investigate whether these reports are true, and if so, to check the Lord Zîgur's cruelty, for it has never been and should never become our custom to reduce men in this manner...' And he is right. So I am investigating this matter, you see, and I ask you: Is it true?"

Mairon allowed his surprise to register on his face. "My dear lord, they are traitors..."

"They may be that, but when all is said and done they are nonetheless my subjects! Either we have them executed as traitors, or we keep them alive; but we do not reduce them to beasts – to less than beasts - and over such a long time! This is a civilised realm, Zîgur, not the wilderness of Middle-earth! You will amend their lot at once, or I shall have to find somebody who understands our laws better to take care of the site."

"Naturally, I will obey your every command, Majesty," Mairon said hastily, surprised by the vehemence of the king's answer. In his mind he cursed Amandil and his entire line. Obviously it had not been enough to remove his opponent from the council; he was still capable of hampering Mairon's work from a distance. It was a pity that the old man still held sway over the king. With their short lives, these mortals really should not form such lasting loyalties. "I do wonder where Aphanuzîr heard these reports," he couldn't help saying.

Ar-Pharazôn, soothed by his hasty compliance, looked thoughtful at that. "So do I, indeed. Especially since I have heard nothing of the sort." The look he gave Mairon was again unflattering.

"Majesty, I had not realised that you might object. I was – foolishly, I now see - convinced that I was acting according to your will. I was not aware how generous you are to your enemies."

"You of all people should know. Have we ever mistreated you in such a manner when you were our prisoner?"

That reminder was really unnecessary, Mairon thought angrily, and his hurt pride was clearly audible when he answered. "You did threaten to torture me, and I believe I was struck once or twice..."

The king snorted, waving his hand dismissively. "For your insolence, and because you threatened me and my noblemen. But we neither kept you like an animal, nor did we beat you for trifles, now did we?"

Mairon's jaw worked angrily before he regained control over himself. "Lord King, please allow me to remind you that it is only Aphanuzîr who speaks of trifles. When a mason mixes mortar with a little too much sand, that may appear a trifle to a nobleman who knows nothing of these matters, but any master builder will agree with me that what seems only a small mistake may have grave consequences – it may cause a building to topple, perhaps killing dozens – with a structure as large as the Temple, hundreds of people! When such a mistake is committed intentionally, would you consider it a trifle?"

Ar-Pharazôn was silent for a while before he asked, "Is that what happened?"

"Among other things, Majesty."

The king sighed. "I understand. You did right then. But Zîgur, you still cannot keep these men as beasts."

"As you say, your Highness. I can but apologise." He turned away. Oh, the revenge he would have on Amandil once he got the chance! If only that time came soon. He forced himself to calm down. Perhaps he could set the king against Amandil at least a little...? "I suppose he must have spies in the capital," he said softly, pretending to mutter to himself. "How else would he have heard?"

"Who are you talking about, Zîgur?"

Mairon blinked as if torn out of deep thought. "Why, Aphanuzîr, my lord King."

Ar-Pharazôn pursed his lips angrily. "You think he spies on me?"

"I think he must have spies in the capital – for whatever purpose," Surely, Mairon thought, he was not even lying this time; without spies, Aphanuzîr could not have known about any of the more unpleasant details of the Temple construction.

"Spies..."Ar-Pharazôn appeared truly struck by the idea. Mairon felt his anger abate a little. Something good might yet come out of this, he told himself.

"Indeed, Majesty. No doubt you have wounded his pride when you – very justly – banned him from the council..."

Ar-Pharazôn shook his head. "I would not have thought it. I thank you for bringing this to my attention."

Mairon smiled to himself even as he bowed low. "At your service, your Highness. Would you like me to take action against him?" He kept his eyes downcast, but his spirits were rising. It would be too delicious if Aphanuzîr had, by his own letter, condemned himself!

But the king was apparently not struck enough. "I would not,"he said flatly. "Aphanuzîr was my teacher and my friend, once, and I for my part will not betray that friendship. Stay away from him!"

Mairon, still keeping his head bowed, rolled his eyes. Quite hopeless, he thought. He wouldn't get his revenge against Amandil, apparently, until the king was dead – and that was likely decades away. At the moment, that appeared an interminably long time, which was odd, since really he had all the time he needed. Being among mortals was really getting to him, he thought. He needed some taste of success, and soon, or he would go mad.

"Very well, your Highness," he said, and added somewhat desperately, "I assume your loyalty extends also to the rest of that family...?"

"Naturally,"said Ar-Pharazôn, but then he said, "Why do you ask?"

"Well, I did not mean to disquiet you yet," said Mairon, buying time. Then inspiration struck: "It is just that I have heard rumours that Gimilnamân(2) has cursed your queen with barrenness because she would not marry him, and that is why you do not have an heir yet. I meant to investigate some more before bothering you with something so horrid, but if you want me to stay away..." He glanced up, and saw that the king had gone pale. Very good.

"No, in this case I do ask you to find out more," Ar-Pharazôn said between clenched teeth. "And if these rumours be true, then Gimilnamân must be punished. See to it, Zîgur."

"As your Majesty commands," said Mairon, smiling to himself. This was promising. Amandil's letter was a bother, to be sure – while Mairon had no intention of honouring his promise to amend the workers' lot, he would have to make sure that the king would hear no further complaints. That would mean filtering the guards, and taking more care than before that nobody infiltrated the Temple site. It was really too bad that the king still protected Amandil, Mairon thought. Still, with any luck the man didn't know that. If his brother was arrested and taken to the temple, that should be a warning to stop meddling – and while Elentir was not quite as satisfying a victim as Amandil himself would be, Mairon took some consolation from the fact that Amandil might hear about his brother's pains. Let him send his spies! He would sorely regret that letter!

And perhaps one of Elentir's servants might be convinced to cooperate instead of sharing his master's fate? Amandil's household was hard to crack, but surely the old lord wouldn't turn away a servant of his lost brother...? Promising indeed. He might even have to thank Amandil, Mairon thought.

- - -

(1) Aphanuzîr: Amandil's Adûnaic name, which he would likely use in public (where an Elvish name would not be well-conceived). To make matters more confusing interesting, Mairon/Sauron here thinks of people in Quenya when he isn't talking. Force of habit, I assume!

(2) Gimilnamân: Elentir (Amandil's brother in some earlier drafts of the Akallabêth) is not (that I know of) given an Adûnaic name, so I got creative once more. Assuming that Elentir means "star-gazer"(or "elf-watcher", but that sounds kind of stalkery, eh?), replacing elen with gimil was easy (the objective case, gimul, supposedly refers only to the singular, although if that's true then Elendil's Adûnaic name, Nimruzîr (note that here the elen was translated as "elf", not "star"), would translate as "Lover of one [particular] elf", which I for my part find odd). tir, however, posed a problem, as once more the little Adûnaic corpus we have doesn't offer any words for "watch", "gaze"or even just plain "see". There isn't even a word for "eye", good grief. So what I did was take the closest concept I could find, which happened to be nimir (which not just means "elf", but also "shine", thus having to do with light, which in turn enables one to see, so there), isolated the stem (Adûnaic works with consonant stems for concept groups, thus N-M-R for light-related things) and added a new stem vowel. Thus when N-M-R +I means "shine"(= emit light), I used N-M-R +A to translate "see/watch/gaze"(= to perceive light). Thus we have the newly coined Adûnaic verb *namir (or *namar). Huzzah! But wait, there's more. After all, we said "Elentir"meant "star-gazer", not "star-gaze"! I found two alternative agent forms of verbs (… possibly), one being -ân (as in kathuphazgân, "Conqueror", or Ar-Balkumagân, "King Ship-wright (=maker)") and the other being -îr (as in Gimilnitîr, "Star-kindler"or the above-mentioned Nimruzîr, "Elf-lover"). Before I end up writing lenghty essays on my interpretations of Adûnaic (which I already started, apparently O.ó), suffice it to say that I decided to apply the -ân ending to triconsonantal verbs, thus giving us namân for "watcher". Or "gazer". And thus was Elentir Adûnaicised...

Elentir's motivation in cursing the queen (not that he did anything of the sort) is fairly simple to explain if we choose to go with Tolkien's idea that Zimraphel/Míriel was originally betrothed to Elentir but then ditched him in favour of Pharazôn. Which I do. It makes her much more interesting. :D

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