The Temptation of Artíre by WendWriter

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In Valinor, some time after the fall of the Two Lamps, Angwë the Builder, the brother of Sauron servant of Melkor, was put on trial for treason. Artíre the Watcher had reported Angwë for building his mountain, Celebdil, instead of helping his master Aulë and the other Valar to restrain the tumults of Middle-earth as it buckled and heaved in the wake of the disaster. Angwë was found not guilty, and remained in Valinor of his own will, but Artíre returned to Middle-earth.

Sauron, who abode on Middle-earth, heard of the trial and of the judgement rendered against his brother, and was furious. In the private audience chamber at Utumno, he took counsel with his master Melkor, who was later called Morgoth by the Elves. "By what right doth anyone deny us the right to hold what we have made?" Sauron fumed. "For we were fashioned of the thoughts of Eru. Did we not spring from the Creator Himself? Why must we labour for others, and gain no profit thereby?"

"So I have told thee," said Melkor, his face kindly. "Am I not a better master than my brother Manwë, king of the Valar?"

"That position should have been thine, my lord," Sauron replied deferentially.

"Thy flattery may avail thee much, Sauron," said Melkor, who was clearly amused. "What is thy desire?"

"My desire is to serve thee, my lord. I wish to gather more Maiar into thy service, if I can," Sauron explained.

"None of the Maiar will now seek us out to befriend us," said Melkor, "since the Great Lamps have been overthrown."

"Nay, my lord, but Artíre the Watcher could," replied Sauron. "Send me out, that I may do all in my power to persuade him to take our side, and not that of the Valar, whom he now serves."

"Artíre sitteth on the truth like a bird on a twig," Melkor countered. "He careth not who receiveth his reports, but that someone of importance doth. I permit this because I know he would profit not from our demise."

"And if we should fail to provide him with the drama he craveth?" asked Sauron. He needed to convince Melkor to agree to this.

"Thou speaketh aright," Melkor conceded. "Do what thou wilt, but do him no hurt, for I have need of a good spy."

With a bow, Sauron left the room.

Deep in the Wild Wood near the Sea of Helcar, Sauron walked in his werewolf hame, seeking for signs of the Elves who were soon to be Awakened. It occurred to him that he could use this event to entrap Artíre into servitude to Morgoth. "He may well see nothing wrong with stirring up a little drama on his own account," Sauron said to himself, licking drool-slick lips. "Is he not entertained by drama? I will tell him of a way to make some of his own."

Sauron travelled through the gloomy woods, looking for the kinds of things he knew Artíre would find interesting. It occurred to him to go to the lakeside to see if he might be there. Sure enough, by the shores, he became aware of an inquisitive presence wandering there.

"Hail, Artíre," he said to the Watcher as he approached him. "What news?"

"Hail, Sauron," Artíre replied.

Sauron could change his shape at will and though the form he was currently wearing was new to Artíre, the Watcher still recognised him. Artíre was invisible to all but the Valar and his fellow Maiar, for he took no form, and wandered unclad, a spirit being drifting here and there at will.

"There are growing things that still thrive near the site of the fallen pillar Illuin, which once bore the Lamp. Melkor's monsters are moving further south now that there is little light to disturb them. Your brother Angwë was called to account by Manwë for the building of his mountain, Celebdil, but was pardoned when they saw he had not joined with Melkor, as you did. He has gone back to working for his master Aulë, and has been warned not to love his mountain overmuch, for his heart would become corrupted by his desire to keep it for himself. Therefore, he remains with his lord so that he will not be tempted," Artíre reported.

Sauron considered this. What he had just heard made him angry. Angwë was his brother, after all, and though they had been sundered by the choices each of them had made, he still had regard for him. Furred lips pulled back from his long yellow fangs as he snarled, "My brother remains in Valinor, and will not seek his own pleasure? The Valar demand that he follow the path they lay before his feet, and will not suffer him to build but a rock of his own to take pride in, else he will find himself numbered with the rebels? This is intolerable! Yet Angwë accepts this, and will not complain? Has he no will of his own? Or is that also not permitted?"

Artíre held his ground."The Valar believed Angwë because he brought back a budding leaf that had not withered in his hand, as it would in yours. I am permitted to roam wherever I wish, to observe, and to report to whoever asks me to," he said. "That is my will, and it has not been challenged. I will not take anyone as my lord, nor will I be a servant of any sort."

Sauron's lips curled back in anger. How dare Artíre hop from one side to the other with no thought for the consequences of his actions! What had the Watcher told the Valar about Sauron? About Melkor? Did Artíre have anything to do with the predicament Angwë was in now? It was dangerous to leave him to roam free. If there was no chance to ensnare the Watcher, he would have to make one. "But if I gave you an opportunity to take part in a scheme of ours that would make a spectacle for you to observe, would that please you?" asked Sauron.

"I would certainly consider it," Artíre replied, curiosity flavouring his voice.

"When the Children have awakened, I want you to whisper to them against Oromë, who has come to Middle-earth to hunt my master's monsters and destroy them. Tell them to shun him, if they should see him, for the Hunter will surely catch them and take them away to devour them," Sauron instructed.

"That I will do," said Artíre.

Sauron was delighted. He had set Artíre on a course that would eventually bind him to Melkor. Lying was a wicked act that would surely sunder the Watcher from the Ainur. Sauron grinned.. 'Artíre sees nothing wrong with stirring up a little drama for the sake of entertainment,' he congratulated himself in thought. 'Well, neither do I, as long as I gain something from it!'

The Deceiver slipped back into the woods, thinking, 'Artíre will never be as free to report to either side as he was before. Now he cannot make reports to the Valar about us. We are free to rule this Middle-earth!'

The End



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