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A Will of My Own, Parts One and Two - By Lyrian

A Will of My Own, Part One

My Master is stirring.

All these years I have waited for him and now he is risen and ready to claim me once again. It has been so long I have almost forgotten the feel of his presence.

But now there are stirrings in my home country and the signs of my Lord's return begin to fill the land with their shadows. Soon it will be time.

It will be as it was thousands of years ago. The very forces of nature bowed to our will and the races of this earth crumbled before us. The fall of the nine kings of men was my triumph and I controlled them in all that they did. My Lord and I were one, his blood mixed with the gold during my forging. He used his powers to make sure that if he was ever conquered only my destruction would signal the completeness of his.

No weapon on earth could damage me, no method of disposal ever enough. My Lord and I were invincible.

During the last great Battle, the combined strength of my Lord's enemies nearly overran our forces until he himself entered the fray. Men and Elves quailed before us as we struck deep into the heart of their paltry army, glorying in the destruction we caused. The death of their kings sent them into despair and the human ruler's son, in a puny gesture of vengeance, swiped at us with the broken end of his father's sword.

The blow would have meant nothing to us but my Master had outstretched his hand to crush the young man's skull and the blade sliced through his fingers and suddenly the link between us was severed.

Such pain I have never felt before. So entwined were we, that when I was removed my Lord's power was torn away from him, his spirit sent spiraling as helpless as a down feather in a gale and his body reduced to cinders.

But I knew despite his incredible suffering, he had not perished. Only until I had been utterly destroyed would that occur. The king's son picked me up and as he was led up the mountain to the volcano by an elf, I knew that I would need to turn this man for our survival.

I told him of the power he could gain if he retained me. Now that his father and brother were dead, he would be king. With me, he could gain not only power but the respect of the other races of this earth. He could restore his homeland and surpass the deeds of all who went before him… with my aid.

By the time the pair had reached the pits, I had him completely in my power. He refused to destroy me despite the elf's urgings and carried me West toward Gondor. But my Lord's minions had not been completely eradicated and orcs, our foot soldiers, ambushed the party and attacked the new king. He used me then to escape but this provided a new opportunity for me. If I could be returned to Mordor in the safe-keeping of my Ringwraiths, when my Lord returned -- and there was no doubt of that -- he would find me waiting for him.

So when he dived into the river to hide from the orcs it was a simple thing for me to slip from his finger and leave him to be skewered by arrows. But so eager was I to get back to my Master that I forgot one simple fact -- orcs were bred for obedience and violence, not intelligence. All they had to do was search the river for me but their killing frenzy continued and they were slaughtered for their folly.

So I lay there on that riverbed as the seasons, years, decades and centuries passed over me. The earth rose and fell with life and while I lay there, the world changed.

Until one day…

Because of the spring floods, the riverbed had shifted and the silt under which I had been disguised had moved, allowing some of my brilliance to shine through the water and weeds. After so long without contact, I was lethargic and only when the hand had grasped me did I realise someone was present.

He was fascinated with me and very proud that he had found me, however it was not he whom I was interested in.

His companion, who at first had been as astonished as his friend at my discovery, soon became jealously covetous of me and I knew that I had found my saviour. Turning him would be easy -- he was all ready under my spell and I had not yet touched him. It only took a little persuasion for him to dispose of my discoverer and claim me for himself.

But I was mistaken in my choice of bearer. While his mind was like wet clay to my will, I had underestimated his possessiveness. Instead of obeying my commands to take me towards Mordor, he turned from his home and fled to the Misty Mountains. My Lord's essence enhanced the maliciousness of the creature, turning both his mind and body into an emaciated, wizen thing.

For long years I was in his keeping but I could always feel my Master. His strength was growing albeit slowly. Soon he would rise again and we would take back what had been stolen from us all those years ago. I had been in the creature's keeping too long; I had neglected the needs of my Lord by doing nothing to return to him. The orc numbers had increased as had the rumours of my Master's return. It would be simple in these caves to be “found” by one of them and taken back to Mordor. I had been in his keeping far too long and I was violently anxious to return to my Lord's hand.

As I lay in the murky filth, I could sense someone stumbling and groping towards me. In that instant of contact with a being, I felt euphoria -- total and absolute bliss. But as I began to explore the mind of my new bearer, I was horrified to find that this would not be easy to turn.

He was innocent, simple. Not simple in intelligence for his mind was sharp and clever but simple in the ways of the world. There was no malice in him, no covetous flaw, no lust for power; only an enjoyment of nature, life and much food. I would not be returning to my Master! Not as I had intended!

So distraught was I that I did not pay much attention to the ensuing incidents with my former bearer and the dwarves and elves. I tried with all my might to call to the Ringwraiths but I was prevented. By the time my Master's recovering spirit could sense where I was being used, I had all ready been removed from the finger of this strange creature. Even in the dragon's lair -- a former servant of my Master -- I could not attract any attention. I despaired of ever returning to Mordor. My only hope was to exert all my powers to turning this thing called a hobbit. However long it would take.

These years have the longest I have ever experienced; longer than my time in the river, longer than the caves of the Misty Mountains.

But lately, he has become more and more dependant on my companionship. He carries me in his pocket constantly, leaving me only when he sleeps. Even then I can still speak to him. My time is coming -- my Master's time is coming.

He is beginning to feel my effects and I am hoping that soon I can make my escape. He is planning to leave soon after the celebration marking a birthday he would not have reached without my assistance. I will act then.

The hobbit has used me!

He is making his escape and I want him to leave quickly to avoid the questions that I know will come, especially from that interfering wizard. But the other is waiting for my bearer when he returns to his burrow. I can sense his suspicion but also his power. He thinks he knows what I am and to whom I belong and he is concerned about his friend.

I press all my will toward getting the hobbit to leave with me but I am not strong enough and the tiny one's love and respect for the wizard is an obstacle I cannot yet overcome. He drops me to the floor and leaves without a backward glance. I am angry yet there are other options open to me. As he returns inside, I can feel the wizard's scrutiny. He leans down, his hand outstretched to pick me up. I am terribly eager -- to be able to access such power!

But I let my impatience show and the wizard senses it and pulls away. He is wary now and I have lost a perfect opportunity. He broods in front of the fire, always aware of me as I am of him.

The door opens and in steps the hobbit's heir. I have sensed him many times, always interested in the older one's tales of his journeys. He is even more innocent than my former bearer and he picks me up and holds me in his hand without a moment's thought of the consequences.

I am frustrated. I have wasted years trying to turn the older hobbit and now I have to expend more energy on someone twice as hard to bend! I take solace in the fact that while my Master's strength is growing, mine is also.

The wizard makes sure the young halfling puts me away, out of sight and he hopes out of mind, being careful not to touch me as he does. My new bearer is confused; the wizard is leaving on urgent business and I know what that business is. His mistrust makes me content. For as the wizard leaves and the hobbit buries me in the bottom of a chest, I hear the first faint callings of my Master. I settle down to wait.

My Nine are coming! My Lord has found that past bearer of mine and has tortured my whereabouts out of him. The little hobbit will stand no chance against them! But the wizard has returned. He has discovered my background and knows how to recognise me. He casts me into the flames of the fire.

Ah! To be warm again! But this is only the palest of shadows in comparison to the glorious inferno of my creation. I try to hold back my markings but the call of the fire is irresistible and the inscription shines through despite my efforts.

The hobbit is horrified when the wizard explains what I am and to whom I belong. I enjoy his fear and his indecisiveness will be to my advantage. The wizard counsels him to leave the Shire and go to the Man village of Bree where he will meet him to bring word of their next move. But my Ringwraiths travel swiftly and I have no doubt they will be able to intercept this hobbit and his new companion and recover me, especially now that the wizard is not there to protect them. All of this simply keeps getting better and better!

As the hobbits trek overland, I can sense my Wraiths getting closing in. The hobbits however, unaware of my servants, have encountered another pair and have become distracted by their stomachs. Their indulgence is to my advantage. One of my Ringwraiths has sensed me.


No! My bearer has seen the coming of my servant and has hidden himself and his companions in the foliage beside the road. My Ringwraith is not fooled however -- he knows I am close by. The hobbits are terrified. While three of them are ignorant of the reason for the hunt, they can feel only too well the horror that my Wraiths exude.

My bearer knows what my servant seeks and his fear is tripled. I play on this, whispering to him of the comfort that he would feel if he became invisible. He could hide from this threat indefinitely and so escape to his beloved wizard who waits for him at the inn. I am taken out of his pocket and he reaches for me…

But again I am thwarted, this time by his companion who jerks him out of the trance I have woven around him. Another of the wretched hobbits distracts my Wraith (who is as blind as he is stupid!) and they flee. My bearer takes to the forest where the four of them manage to evade my servants until nightfall. But they have grown in number since the afternoon and are stronger with the setting of the sun. It is not long before they find me again.

The hobbits are making for the ferry but my Wraiths head straight for my bearer and cut him off from the rest of the group. As he flees I call to my servant to run him down. I revel in the hobbit's panic but I know that my servant will not be fast enough. My bearer jumps to safety and my Wraith is left stranded on the jetty looking after them.

I call to him to summon the others but it will be hours before they can catch up with the tiny group. I can only hope the wizard will not be at the inn to meet them.

A Will of My Own, Part Two

Idiot Wraiths! The have been apart from me for so long they cannot even sense when I am across the street from them! That blasted man took the hobbits from the inn and my Wraiths were deceived. Now they have left in search of me when I am right under their noses! Wretched things!

The enlarged group has decided to take me to Rivendell and despite my efforts, my bearer is so relieved that he is going without question. Luckily for me, these hobbits know very little about the danger they are in. The little fools even light a fire for their dinner that can be seen for miles! My servants may have poor eyesight but even they cannot help but notice this. I am gloating over their arrival when my bearer wakes and leaps to stop his companions.

Too late! My Wraiths are at the bottom of the Watchtower and the puny ones have no chance. They race up to the tower proper and prepare for battle. The very idea is laughable but they do put up a good effort. They last for… five seconds perhaps and my bearer is so terrified that he forgets himself and drops his sword.

Sensing my servants' confusion, I pressure him to place me on his finger by promising him the comfort of invisibility. Instead, this simply enables my Wraiths to see him fully.

My Witchking has seen me and I reach for him, straining to get into his grasp. But the hobbit's will is strong and he snatches me back. The king buries his dagger into the halfling's shoulder to obtain me however the Ranger comes out of nowhere and proceed to lay waste to my Wraiths!

This man is making me very angry. I will create new and wonderful tortures just for him when I return. He drives away my servants and whisks my bearer away to obtain Elvish healing for the wound. Even now I can feel the poison of my servant's blade coursing through the hobbit's body. Soon there will be ten to serve me.

A billion curses on all Elves.

Why are all my plans undone by the insufferable creatures? The she-elf snatched my bearer from the closing net of Wraiths and bore him over the Bruinen. When they tried to rescue me, they were swept away by Elven magic and while I was railing against this theft, that blasted Elrond healed the hobbit!

Still, he has been wounded by Morgul knife and that is one scar easy to pry open. I can work through the injury to further turn him. At the moment I have been carefully removed from the inhabitants of Rivendell to await my bearer's return to consciousness. They have not taken me from his clothes for fear of my touch and now I must wait to see what they intend.

They have decided to do what they could not three thousand years ago: throw me back into the volcano from which I was forged. They have matched the group against my servants, nine for nine.

It is a mixed group, this Fellowship. Almost all of the races opposed to my Master are present. The elf and the dwarf I have disregarded; the elf would take too long to turn and the dwarf has all ready tried to destroy me once (in a pathetic attempt) and is far too bone-headed to bend properly. The four hobbits are too pure and have too much respect for my bearer and too much ignorance of me to prove bendable enough. The wizard is out of reach, knowing me all too well and the Ranger, while being in a position of great power, has other concerns and too strong a will.

The man of Gondor however…

He is a different story.

I sensed him from the moment those fools sat down at their council. His stress is all ready palpable and he sees me not as I truly am but as a weapon to be used against my Lord's forces who pound his country. He is against the Fellowship's journey to Mount Doom but he has come along out of a sense of honour. He has a noble spirit which may have proved inconvenient but for his ignorance and it is this that will enable me to gain access to his thoughts and thereby his deeds. I have laid the first seeds at the council where his desire for me burned like a beacon in the cold realm of nobility and light.

He is the weak link in this chain of righteousness. He will be my deliverer.

We have been travelling for many days, avoiding the servants of the white wizard who are looking for this Fellowship. In order to do this, we are now half-way up a mountain in freezing snow. My bearer does not like this -- his legs are too short and the drifts too deep. He finds it difficult to move and falls down many times.

I see my chance and snap a link in my Elvish chain as the hobbit falls and rolls away down the slope. I call to the man of Gondor. He picks me up and I weave my spell. It is easy to prey on his disbelief and ignorance of my power. He is as impressionable as the snow he walks upon and if that damned Ranger would stop getting in my way, my turning of him would be faster. Still, my seed is growing. All I need do now is wait.

Ugh! I'm surrounded by elves again. And these are Lorien elves which makes them ten times worse. The group is resting after their trip through the Moria Mines where I rejoiced at the death of the wizard.

It was I who pushed my indecisive bearer to chose the road through Moria, preying on his wariness of the Gondor man and the pressure he was under to help his fellow hobbits. I had hoped to slip away from him in the darkness but after I realised that my former bearer was tracking me, I quickly discarded that plan. I have no intention of returning to him. I am better off staying this Fellowship -- they are going to my home in any case. There was no opportunity to further turn any of them as their focus was too great but despite all this the journey has turned out better than I had hoped.

For even though I am surrounded by elves, there is one here who has been dreading my appearance since she first was told of the quest. Before long the she-elf takes my bearer to her fountain to provide him with counsel on the course he must take. The mirror is full of Elven magic and it shows the halfling the glorious destruction my Lord and I will wreak together when I return to his hand. The hobbit is horrified and I am delighted and when my Master appears in the mirror I reach for him eagerly.

But it is only an illusion that fades all too quickly so I turn my attention to the she-elf. Powerful she may be but even she is not undisturbed by my presence. She knows that if I so wished, I could turn her into the most powerful and merciless being in this world and the next. My bearer wishes to present me to her and she is very tempted. I speak of all the good she could do for her people and the others who inhabit this land. She could return her people to the glory of their former days, she could bring all the suffering to an end, perhaps even bridge the divide between the Blessed Realm and this one.

She wrenches away from me with all her might and even with her Ring of Power she barely escapes. She is content with herself and her inner strength and while it would have been a glorious way to return to my Master, my regret is minimal. The weight of his task has fully settled on my bearer and will make him even more susceptible to my call.

The Fellowship do not stay long in the Elven city but are anxious to move on. I am pleased by this. The sooner we get away from these elves the better.

They have been given boats to sail down the Anduin to Rauros Falls and during this trip I weave my net. My link in the Fellowship is slowly growing weaker, with fights breaking out because of feelings I have encouraged. I enhance these to their fullest extent and by the time we reach the western shore, I know it is time to strike.

My bearer is in confusion. He can feel my call and he has a suspicion of what I am doing to the Gondor man. I whisper of solace in the forest, away from the eyes of his companions who seem always to be watching him, away from the questions that will be asked about what is to come next. He wanders aimlessly, his thoughts elsewhere whereas mine are fixed on a figure not too far away.

The Gondorian has gone hunting for firewood at my prompting, and I call to him, directing his feet until the pair cross paths out of earshot of the rest of the party. The man believes he has encountered the hobbit by chance but my bearer knows differently. He is wary of the man and as the conversation progresses I reach for him and begin to mold his will.

He is only after the well-being of my bearer, I convince him. He is worried about the toll that I am taking on the halfling and thus wants to help him. But the stubborn hobbit does not see it that way. His good intentions are being flung aside. His city is on the verge of destruction and this creature can help thwart this yet he will not! His people will die horrible deaths and be enslaved and his home will crumble and darkness will sweep over his land all because of the whimsy of some tiny being!

I can feel the Gondor man struggling against me but I am too powerful. My bearer moves away from his tirade and I snap the now fragile string of his will. He shrieks and starts after my bearer and I encourage him. I am his if only he will take me! It was nothing more than chance that I fell into the possession of this wayward hobbit! Take me!

My bearer's panic engulfs me as the man attacks and I rejoice. He slips me onto his finger and escapes from his grasp, fleeing through the forest, not knowing what direction to take. The Gondorian has recovered from the hobbit's retaliation and while my proximity to him physically is fading, my hold on his mind takes longer to shake. I can hear him screaming threats and curses after the hobbit until he slips and strikes his head against a piece of wood. My spell is broken. I can feel his despair at his actions and his cries for forgiveness but they only encourage my bearer to run faster.

He climbs onto one of the two thrones that stand at Amon Hen to hide. It is the Seat of Seeing where we both encounter my Master. My bearer does not realise that this is but an illusion He panics and yanks me off his finger. As he does, he slips and falls from the throne's platform. But I am not interested in his well-being. I am more interested in the Ranger who has been tracking him.

At the sound of the man's voice my bearer frantically moves away, afraid that I have a hold on this man as well. He does not believe the Ranger's profession of fealty and there is a moment of doubt within the Ranger himself. I do not believe that I will be able to turn him in such short time but I try regardless. I whisper to him of the future, of coming into his birthright with such power he could never imagine, of claiming the she-elf he adores with no pesky obstacles to overcome. I call to him of all that he could have even sooner if he would just reach out and take me.

But as his hand wraps around my bearer's, I know my half-hearted attempt has failed. I am not very disappointed. In fact, my bearer has come to the decision that he will leave the Fellowship and strike out on his own. I am content. It will be easier to gain a hold if there are no others to detract from my call.

I am still gloating over this when the man orders my bearer to run. His Elven sword has begun to glow and I sense the approach of uruks sent by the white wizard to recover me for himself. But my bearer is swift and a short head start is all he needs to evade these enemies.

He flees to the beach, seizes a boat and has just begun to leave when he is interrupted by his first companion, the fat hobbit. I urge him to go, to leave him behind but the stupid halfling starts to drown and my bearer insists on going back to retrieve him. It matters not. They head to Mordor and with every step closer to my home, the stronger I become. The road is full of perils, more than enough for me use to aid my spell. His soul is all ready shadowing. I can be patient. Eventually my will will become his and I shall return to my Lord. So I will wait, and whisper. And turn.

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