An old Dwarf king sat on his throne, thinking of a past encounter, as he turned a small golden ring in his fingers, stopping every now and then to examine it. “There’s nothing special about this ring. Ha! To think that even in my youth I was foolish enough to believe this ring could give me anything my own two hands could not!” As he said this to himself, his mind wandered back to the day he received his ring.
“My name is Annatar, and I bring you a gift, oh great Dwarven king.” Thus had a fairly clad man greeted him before his throne many years ago. “I bid you, my lord,” said the guest, “send away your guards that we may speak in private, for what I have to tell you is only for the ears of kings.” The king had sent away his guards, and then the guest began to speak.
“Great are the halls of the Dwarf kings, in size, wonder, and beauty, and greatest of them all is yours, your majesty. Yet maybe still, there is something that this hall lacks?” The guest paused for a moment, as if to give the king time to think. “What I offer you now, great king, is a chance to be greater. I offer you power and wealth beyond even the dreams of the mighty Dwarves.”
The king then examined the guest’s face closely, trying to guess what he was thinking. “And what do want in return?” he asked.
“As I said before, I offer you a gift. I ask for nothing in return.” The guest then took from a pouch under his cloak a ring, and said, “This, my lord, is the gift I give you. With it, you shall have wealth unceasing and power unlimited.”
As the old king reminisced of this meeting, one of his advisors came in. “My lord, we have found gold in the southern mines.” A strange gleam came into the old dwarf’s eyes.
“That is good. And what of the lower mines to the east?”
“We have found nothing yet, but the miners are expecting to strike gold any day.”
“Excellent. You may go.” To one of his servants, he said, “Send for my son. I have something to give him.” As the door closed, he went back to examining the ring. “To think I ever believed this ring could give me anything my own two hands could not!”