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The Nine

by Eonwë-(Valar)
June 23, 2000

Nine lords of Men came to the Gates of Mordor to meet with Sauron, the lord of Barad-Dur. Sauron took upon himself a fair guise and met them at the gate. “Come, my friends! We shall dine first, and then I shall share with you the business for which I have called you here.” In silence they rode to the Dark Tower and in silence they dined. When the lords had each eaten their fill, Sauron began to speak.

“Now that each of you has dined on the best food and wine I have to offer, I now make you the best offer you will ever hear. Before me I have nine rings. I am sure they appear as little more than trifles to you, my friends, but I assure you these rings are very special. These rings will give their wearer great power. Greater power than you can imagine!” He then paused to let the words resound in their minds, and with a smile continued in a whisper, so that the lords had to come closer to hear. “My friends, I tell you now these rings will give you that which those who dwell across the Sea have denied to all men. These rings will give you --- immortality!”

The lords then began to talk amongst themselves. Then one said, “Lord Sauron, I have no doubt thou speakest the truth, but what proof do we have that these rings hold the power you say they do?”

With another smile, Sauron said, “I will let each of you try a ring; and for you, Lord Herumor, who is of the noble people of Numenor, not only will you be the first to try, but you will also be given the greatest of the nine, for it is your shrewdness and perception that has demanded this test.” With that, each of them was handed a ring. As Lord Herumor put on his ring, the others gasped to see that he had disappeared!

“That is right, friends. These rings also give you the power to become invisible when you wish.”

Then another lord spoke up. “And what is the price of such power?”

With another smile, Sauron said, “Several of you have already sworn fealty to me. However, I will not demand that all of you do so. For now, I grant this power freely, and hope that the friendship between all our nations is everlasting.”

Each of the lords thought on how their ring could help their kingdom and, most importantly for some, themselves. In the end, they all accepted the rings. Sauron escorted them to the gate, and this time there was much laughter and mirth along the trip. At the gate he bid them farewell and safe journey.

Upon returning to the Barad-Dur, he cast aside his fair form as one would cast aside a worn cloak. He walked through his halls, which were now filled with orcs and trolls. As he reached his throne room, he pulled about him the form he had worn in private for many long years, and as he sat on his throne, he began to smile again. As his smile began to erupt into laughter, something on his right hand began to glow red; something none of the lords had noticed during their meeting: a simple, golden ring.