Artíre's Revenge by WendWriter

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Artíre was delighted at Melkor's order to seek Sauron out and spy on him. He knew, of course, that Sauron was loyal to his master. Therefore, to create a rift between master and servant, he would have to either find a way to cause Sauron to betray Melkor, or to make it look that way. With this in mind, he decided to find out more about Melkor, in order to discover any possible weaknesses the Vala had.

Melkor craved power, and desired to remake the world in his own image. This was noteworthy, but not something of which the Watcher could take immediate advantage. Artíre's thoughts turned to the crown Sauron wore. It had three bright jewels mounted on it, and they shone with their own light. They appeared to be burning him. That was the strangest thing he had ever seen in Angband - the fact that Melkor the mighty could be burned. Why did he not simply shed his form and get rid of the bright, burning jewels? Was he under some kind of a punishment? If an effective plan of vengeance was going to be made, Artíre would need as much information as he could get hold of. It was obvious whom he should ask to learn more - Sauron, Melkor's loyal lieutenant.

Sauron was in Rhûn, seeking Men to corrupt to the service of Melkor. For this task, he shed his physical form and walked among men as a spirit of malice. He whispered lies to them of the great bright beings of the North who claimed to be their benefactors, but secretly planned to enslave them. He directed them in subtle ways towards necromancy and dark magic, persuading them to shun light and turn to darkness. Accordingly, towers sprouted throughout the land as mages and sorcerers of every kind sprang up among men, gazing at the stars and worshiping them for their own sake. The names of false gods were carved above temples in which vile rituals took place, and idols of various descriptions were offered sacrifices of children's' hearts when the harvests failed in the hopes of promoting prosperity the following year.

The harvests failed when Sauron and his minions uprooted the grain seedlings and replaced them with weeds; when they spread mould spores over the fields; and when they interfered with the irrigation trenches, giving the crops too much or too little water. When the crops failed, the evil Maiar would whisper to the people that it was because their gods were angry, and required penance in the form of greater sacrifices.

Thus the people were turned from innocence to wickedness, and Sauron was pleased with his work. For Men had begun to threaten his master Melkor by joining with the Elves, and had, from time to time, defeated the orcs and other monsters in battle. By causing the men of the South to rebel, Sauron hoped that the Men of the North and their Elven allies would be weakened by having to fight on two fronts. The next step would be to sunder Men from the Elves, for which his plans were already in motion.

When Artíre arrived in Rhûn, he found Sauron and his fellow Maiar standing near a new temple dedicated to "Moko, the God of Strength and Power." They seemed to be pleased with themselves, and were waiting for the inauguration rituals to begin.

The temple itself was crowded with beings Artíre had never seen... a new race of Children? Of course! Men, the Second Born. The Watcher had seen them during the singing of the Great Music which had preceded the shaping of the world. They crowded together inside the temple, their king present with all of his most important officials at the fore.

Artíre had never seen Men before, so he crept closer to them while trying to stay out of sight of the other Maiar. While Elves were often aware of the presence of Maiar, Men were not. They lacked foresight and did not appear to have the same strength as the Elves. There were some superficial similarities to Elves, but for the most part men were different creatures altogether. Mingling with them, the Watcher was conscious of their excitement as they anticipated the inauguration of their temple. Animals of various kinds could be heard bleating in the holding pens, and there were some people clothed in white and looking very nervous. Some of the men were dressed in robes and were wearing various kinds of headdresses. This appeared to designate their status. The most richly dressed Men were seated upon carven chairs, while the lesser men stood in the middle of the large room.

The people were unaware of the presence of the Maiar, but some of the priests claimed to be sensitive to the presence of their god and his messengers. Since Sauron had indeed been whispering to them, their claims were actually true. Artíre saw the edifice and was eager to learn more about it. Since he did not understand writing, he could not read the inscriptions written here and there throughout the temple. He could, however, decipher the murals and other artworks, which told the story of the creation of the world from Melkor's point of view. Surely, then, "Moko" must be Melkor? Elves were depicted as exotic creatures with long, sharply pointed ears and sinister faces.

The Watcher observed the propitiatory rites of the temple dedication. Many sacrifices were made. They both horrified and fascinated Artíre. The white-robed people had been right to be nervous - they were sacrificed to Moko by having their hearts cut out and burned on an altar with incense, while their bodies were taken outside and discarded. Sauron seemed to be particularly pleased with this and Artíre tried to understand. Why was the destruction of Men who were obviously worshiping Melkor necessary? Surely the offering of the hearts of the fittest, strongest people would rob Men of those most fitting to breed. The race of Men would then be propagated by those deemed less worthy to be sacrifices... of course! Artíre understood now. Keeping Men weak by killing off the best and the brightest of them would make them easier to manipulate. Would this not make for a weaker army? If this had not occurred to Sauron, any efforts at making war on the Men of the North would be doomed to failure. Perhaps it mattered not to Sauron whether the Men of Rhûn won or lost in their battles. He had orcs, Balrogs and other monsters to command after all.

The Watcher was appalled at this, but also impressed. It took a special kind of cruel intelligence to conceive of such a scheme. Sauron was Melkor's pupil indeed.

As the people dispersed after the dedication, Artíre cast about for a place to hide from the other Maiar. The pillars could not shield him from their senses, nor could he simply hide in the guise of a Man.

The Ainur did not use the same five senses to see, hear, smell, touch or taste as the Children did. They could see through any altered form he might take. This meant that hiding from a Vala or a Maia was only possible if there was something present to distract them. Attempting to hide by assuming a form was impossible, for the Ainur saw without eyes the nature of every creature, so Artíre was able to recognize Sauron straight away no matter what form he took, for he seemed to to be a single-minded entity bent on attaining power and rule over other wills whatever the cost. The feelings Sauron evoked in Artíre were always the same, whatever shape he assumed. There were subtle differences made by the particularities of each form Sauron took, but the overall impression of Sauron remained the same. All of the Ainur experienced existence in this way.

The Maiar and Valar were powerful spirit beings who needed no body to house them. They interacted with the physical world by bending their thought on those things they desired to alter or shape. When they felt the need or desire to clothe themselves with flesh, they would go to the woods or the fields and seek matter to make into bodies for themselves. They were not fastened into these bodies, but held them together by force of will.

Now it was possible for the Ainur to remain in a body for quite some time, as long as the one doing so was in the habit of "remembering" that he was embodied. Many Ainur tried to create strange and new forms for themselves, but they soon discovered that the laws of the Arda applied also to them. Even Manwë, king of the Ainur, could not fashion a winged body that looked like a Man or an Elf.

Movement from the back of the temple near the altar made Artíre anxious. The urgent requirement to find a way to hide was pressing on him. What could he do? Assuming a form would not conceal him, as any form made by the force of his will would require his concentration to maintain its shape. Besides, his essence would be woven through every fibre of the body, and this would mark him out to the Maiar in the temple. If he could borrow someone else's, his essence would be veiled, buried under skin, muscle and bone. The Maiar would be unaware of him as long as he did nothing to attract their attention.

Looking around for a likely candidate, the Watcher noticed a rotund Man who seemed to be unwell. Making his way stealthily towards him, Artíre induced him to walk to the latrines, which were outside the temple itself. Once the Man had settled down, the Watcher made his attempt to take over his body. Approaching the Man from the left, he attempted to ease himself in through the pores in the man's skin.

"Yaaaaaarrrrgh!" the Man cried.

"What is wrong?" called another voice from the next stall - or so the Man believed. In truth, it was Artíre, trying to calm the Man down and to prepare him for another attempt. At the Man's cry, he had desisted immediately.

"Something is invading me - or trying to!"

Alarmed by the Man's terror, Artíre tried to calm him down. "What if it is one of the gods, a servant of Moko?"

"I am but a baker," the Man replied, his voice shaking. "I am a devotee, not a priest, mage or shaman. This should not be happening to me."

It was completely new for Artíre to experience the thoughts, feelings and sensations of another being, and on any other occasion, he would have wanted to savour it. However, his need pressed upon him, and the possession of the Man would have to be achieved if he was to be able to walk abroad unrecognized. The problem was that the Man was aware that he was there, as their spirits had briefly connected during the attempted possession. This complicated matters because Artíre now shared the Man's experiences at every possible level.


"How did you know my name?" Kanu replied, terror tightening his voice.

"I heard another say it," Artíre soothed. "Did you not know that shamen are made, not born?"

"Yes, I have heard that," Kanu replied. "I have never thought that I could be one."

"I daresay neither did any of them," said Artíre, in the tones of a learned Man.

"I am afraid," Kanu quavered.

"I am sure they all feel that way," the Watcher told him gently.

"I do not want this," confessed the Man.

"I know," Artíre commiserated.

"I know who you are," Kanu stated with conviction. At the moment their spirits had touched, he realized what Artíre was and what the Watcher purposed for him.

"And I know who you are, Kanu," the Watcher said firmly. "Are you ready to receive me?"

"No," Kanu wept.

It was as the Man drew in a rasping breath that Artíre entered him through his mouth. Strange sensations permeated the Watcher's being as he sat inside the Man's stomach. He was aware of the workings of his body and of the disquiet of his soul, since Kanu was aware of what had just happened. Steeling himself, Artíre spread his influence, assuming control over every fiber of Kanu's being.

Kanu baulked at this imposition, and struggled within as he attempted to wrest back control of his body and his mind. He sat there, on his seat, his teeth and hands clenched and his body rigid as he fought to regain mastery of his own flesh.

Striving to control the battling Man, Artíre pushed and pushed at the spirit within, trying to force it out, but it was fastened to him in muscle and sinew, in joint and in marrow. The Watcher had just discovered what a soul was - the fusion of body and spirit. Any attempt to get the Man to speak and act according to the Watcher's desires would be thwarted at every turn, as the concentration required to control him all the time would be phenomenal. Kanu would have to be killed. Releasing the Man for a moment, Artíre bent his will on the man's heart, and made it stop beating. Kanu slumped forwards, dead, and the Watcher entered him again as the Man's spirit drifted sadly away. The body sat up, moved by the will of Artíre.

It was the strangest thing, being clothed in flesh. Artíre had never actually taken a form before, and the sensations he experienced in his first incarnation were a great novelty. There was something different about the body now that the spirit had departed, and the Watcher was unsure what it was until he realized that the heart had stopped beating and the usual sounds of the internal organs churning away as they did their work had stopped. It was a dead Man who was sitting up.

'No matter,' thought Artíre, 'it will not be for long. Besides, it would require some concentration to maintain the beating of the heart and the functioning of the other parts and pieces. I will let them be, since I can walk around like this anyway.'

The Watcher got up in Kanu's hame and went back to the temple.

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