A/N: Hello. Story.
The Shadow of Angmar
Chapter 1: To the Misty Mountains
"Bugd za stazgu durb-matum-ob!" chanted a dark voice into the depths of Harry's mind.
He spun where he stood, trying to locate the speaker and yet he was surrounded by the empty pale and ghostly platforms of King Cross station. Dumbledore had faded from sight and Harry was sure he was about to return to his body yet now this voice called to him and he needed to find it.
The words scratched at his mind and left him feeling unclean, yet for all that he felt their pull. A part of him recognised the evil that stained those words yet his curiosity left him straining for them.
"Kulat amub matum agh gashnatub bûrzum fitgu." said the voice and now Harry heard that it was many voices chanting together. Deep and rumbling he felt a pull in them yet he could do nothing to find the source. With each word the chant grew louder and the pull stronger until it was almost unbearable.
He could feel the force and power behind them yet he did not know from where they came, there was no direction to it, merely the feeling of constriction and need.
"Who's that?" he called into the empty halls, still wary of the pain and darkness that seemed intertwined with the words. "What are you saying?"
"Durb-matum-ob! Thrak lat-izishû!" Suddenly the feeling collapsed into a sharp pain at his navel and he felt himself pulled off his spectral feet. About him he felt a torrent of something unidentifiable rushing by, he was thrown forward across the featureless platform and there was nothing he could do to stop it.
Before him was a dark tunnel, forbidding and utterly out of place in the pale white void of the place between life and death. He threw out his hands in an impotent attempt to stop himself but of course it had no effect.
He flew into the darkness and it was so all encompassing that he thought for a moment that he had closed his eyes.
He opened them.
He was laying on the ground yet it was not where he had been before. He was not resting atop the soft leafy mould of the Forbidden Forest clearing where he had confronted Voldemort for the final time. Now he lay on stone stone so cold it burned and he was covered in something warm and sticky. He raised his head and found its weight almost too much to bear, his body was weaker than he'd ever known.
Around him were thirteen figures all clad in menacing black robes. Their eyes glinted malevolently in the darkness of their hoods and power swam about them in a torrent. One in particular drew his eye, even darker than the rest he stood near seven feet tall and had a terrible spiked crown of black iron set upon his head.
He looked further and found that he'd been transported somewhere utterly unrecognisable. Gone was the Forbidden Forest of Hogwarts and in its place was a great city, consumed in writhing orange and red flames. Screams of torment and anguish echoed in his ears as those who lived within were reduced to ash in the intense heat. Proud tall spires, once glittering white pinnacles, were blackened by the flames and across the city fell into ruin and rubble.
As he looked on he realised that the people about him were dropping to the ground one by one. Each would sigh and fall to their knees before they then keeled over to their side. When one of them fell his hood was cast back from his head and his face was revealed, darkly tanned and covered in piercings and hoops of gold. His skin had been pulled back and was stretched across his bones so tightly Harry was sure he was in constant pain when speaking. His hair was thin and sickly and grey. His eyes stared wide and lifeless at Harry where he lay.
Soon only one was left standing, the towering figure crowned in iron did not fall as had the others. He looked at last at Harry who lay still upon the cold and smooth stone of the ritual altar in his exhaustion. Harry felt burning hatred and rage in the figure's unseen gaze and knew he was helpless before it.
Harry felt his grasp on consciousness slipping again and darkness pressed in at the edges of his vision. He fought to retain his awareness for he knew that he was already in great danger. He was without his wand or any other protections and knew he would be at the complete and unlikely mercy of the dark figure before him. The figure said something Harry could not fully grasp in the language he'd heard before, the words sibilant and menacing. Harry could not focus on them as his sight became duller despite his fight to stay conscious.
His eyes slipped shut as he tried one last attempt to pull himself back to full awareness and he heard two last words before his battle was completely lost.
Harry Potter knew pain.
He had not known true torment or suffering until he had come to this place so many months ago. Days passed by sluggishly, filled with pain and a longing for a final death that walked so close yet never came to him.
How had it come to this? He had been sure that his trials were at an end, that the defeat of Voldemort was mere minutes away. Dumbledore had said he was done, that he needed to do no more, that his long hardship was finally over.
Had he lied? Or had he simply been ignorant of the truth, as he had been ignorant of so many things? There was no end to his suffering to be found here. His next great adventure was one of blood and violence and pain.
It toughened him, like tempered steel. In the last year he had killed many times and could no longer find it within him to regret his actions. The alternative had been so very much worse.
He had been taken from where he arrived and brought North, chained, hobbled and dragged behind a heavy wain. If he could not walk then he was pulled heedlessly through the dirt, he was not fed and he was given only the water he could sip from rancid puddles as he passed them by upon the road.
His childhood had been no comfortable time yet it could not compare in any way to his recent experience.
He could not communicate with them at all for they spoke the foul tongue he'd heard in the place between life and death and they could not comprehend any English. They did not much care at the start, his screams were enough to keep them happy in their ministrations.
After a few weeks though things changed, if only a little. The Witch King, the tall black figure who had been present at his arrival, took a renewed interest in him. He had been impaled and cut and burned and yet never given the release of death no matter how much he begged them for it.
He should have died.
That he did not drew new and unwelcome interest towards him.
Once the Witch King had been content to condemn him to a tortuous death for his folly in foiling the ritual intended to call the One greater than Death from the beyond. Now he realised that Harry had a power of his own.
The Witch King experimented with him. Orcs and Wargs and Trolls stabbed and clawed at his flesh for days and nights without number yet each morning his emaciated body breathed still and new scars burned bright upon his pale, near yellow, skin. His magic betrayed him, kept him alive through the worst of torture.
He was starved for months and grew thinner and thinner until he was barely more than walking bones held together by the will of a cruel fate. His magic sustained him.
He was deprived of water and light for weeks, his eyesight, which had been miraculously improved in his transition to this world, grew bleary and dark while his skin became dry, cracked and bloody. Ever his magic fought to keep him alive, even in the moments when he wished for nothing more than the end of it all.
The Witch King saw value in him then. The worth of such a powerful and resilient servant would be such that it superseded the rage he felt at Harry ruining his greatest scheme. He was not unkillable and many times he hovered close to true death yet never tipped over the edge. The cruel medicine of the sorcerers always brought him back from the brink. He was to be kept alive, he was to be broken as thoroughly as the dungeons of Carn Dum could allow.
He was taught at last to communicate but only in the black language of Sauron. The lessons were short and cruel, any failure resulted in immediate and unrelenting punishment. They were never shy of levelling against him the most terrible punishments. The healing crafts of Angmar were as cruel as their torture yet still they were effective. Each time he was forced to the very brink of death, he was given a sight and hope of relief and then they wrenched it away.
He was taught other languages too, Adûnaic and Westron both, even a little of the Elvish tongues. But he was never to speak them, if ever he did then the retribution was always swift and terrible.
A favourite punishment of the Witch King was to bring to Harry three prisoners. He would command that Harry take up a blade and kill any one of them, lest the Witch King himself decide their fate. Their fates, good or bad, were in Harry's hands, bloodied and scarred as they were.
The first time it happened, Harry refused. The Witch King had all of them tortured for hours until finally their spirits broke and their lives failed. At the same time Harry would be provided comfort and food in within easy sight of them. The Lord of Carn Dum explained to Harry then that their suffering was due to his weakness. If he had simply done as asked then the others would have gone free.
The next week the test was repeated and again Harry refused to kill an innocent. This time the torture was drawn out even longer and children were brought in to share in their fates. They were shown where Harry was being fed the first food he had consumed in a week and told that he and his weakness, his selfishness, was the reason for their suffering.
He did not resist a third time.
Slowly the demands grew in cruelty and became even more extreme. The Witch King would demand he torture one to spare the others. Harry would be brought groups of children or women or family groups. On occasion he would resist, yet every time he did the fate of those he thought to save became worse and worse.
He became inured to their suffering yet still he was not completely subjugated.
He walled off a corner of his mind from the darkness of his captivity, a tiny little place where joy and happiness could still be found. Memories of friends and loved ones sustained it and he cultivated it like the finest garden, never letting it wither even in this uttermost drought of the soul.
Such had been his life for a long year. Day after interminable day of pain, guilt and self loathing in an endless and unstoppable tide. All for nothing.
For near seven hundred years Angmar had been a blight upon the people of the North. The day of Harry's arrival had been the day the last resistance to the power of the Witch King was finally crushed. Fornost had fallen and its people burned alive or put to the sword. It had been their suffering that fueled the dark sacrificial spell used by the Witch King to pull Harry from beyond the walls of the world.
The Master of Death. Such an empty title. Harry was no Master of Death. Instead he was a slave to life, seemingly doomed to linger upon the world in ceaseless agony. No power was he granted, no strength given. He was reduced to the meanest and most foul creature he'd ever known.
Master of Death indeed, such a cruel joke. A last revenge upon those who sought the power of Death. He was sure now that Dumbledore was wrong, that the Hallows had been granted by Death itself, a test and a warning to foolish mortals who would seek to undermine the power of the one and only universal truth.
Yet it had given him a power and strength of sorts, a strength he would have been happy to do without. He survived in the dungeons of Carn Dum for a year in conditions worse than any seen since the corruption of the Orcs in the elder days. Something in him rebelled, something refused to greet Death even as he wished for that release.
He survived long enough. Gondor came, the Elves came. Angmar was thrown down and ruined and the Witch King forced into flight before their hosts. Harry's long imprisonment and torture was finally at an end. He might be free at last.
Yet as one torture ended another surely began. He was a ruined husk, dead in all but flesh. He was stranded in an unfamiliar and cruel world without strength or magic to aid him. But sometimes destruction breeds life anew, stronger and more wondrous than before.
They took pity on him. Pity. A singularly unfamiliar response. None had shown him such regard in all his long year in Angmar. Yet these people regarded him with pain and sorrow, they shared in the tiniest portion of his torment and knew just a little of what he'd experienced.
It meant little to him at the time. Still so soon after his ordeal he could not rise from the prison of his own mind. Only his hatred of the Witch King and his minions could reach him, only then did he feel as he had once been able.
He felt dead inside, a ghost made flesh. His rescuers looked upon him and saw much the same. He heard them whisper when they thought he could not hear, of darkness and wretchedness and the blessing that death would surely be.
They did not know him. He would not die, not yet. He had yet tasks he wished to complete. The Witch King would know despair before Harry would succumb to the cold embrace.
He walked from their camp, a light pack upon his back. He ignored the anguish-filled eyes that followed him on his way for he wished now for solitude and time to try and heal the wounds that had been inflicted upon his body and soul in the dungeons of Carn Dum.
He was lucky enough to get weeks of it. Long, painful and slow marches marked each day; nightmares and old pain marked each night. In that days he ate for the first time in weeks, yet he could not hold it down. Even worse was the bread given to him by the Elves which, though cold, burned his mouth when he tried to eat it.
By now he was no stranger to burns, so he forced it down anyway. It was one of the few foods he could eat even with his ruined teeth. He always threw it up soon enough, his long starved body would take many weeks before it could consume such rich and satisfying food.
As he travelled he began to wonder how he could return home. Such thoughts had long been confined to the small piece of him mind left untouched by the Witch King's cruelty. Now, though, he could consider his options.
The first thing, of which he was certain, was that he needed to find some way of focusing his magic. He could feel it still, like a warmth that settled beneath his clammy skin but he could not reach it. His wand was lost in his old world along with everything else he'd ever owned or known. Without a wand he had no magic for even Apparition required he have a wand upon his person.
He needed a wand. He'd seen none. The servants that the Witch King had sacrificed in bringing Harry to the world had borne simple staffs of black wood and Harry understood that such devices were what sorcerers in this place used to focus their power.
He did not know if a staff would work with his own type of magic. What little he'd seen of the true magic of this world was mean and simple, nothing that could compare to his own. However, a staff was surely a good place to start. Unfortunately the dark implements carried by the sorcerers of Angmar into battle were all burned by the victorious Men and Elves and they certainly would never trust him enough to grant him such power.
He had to find it himself. What little he knew was that most of the sorcerers of Angmar had come from the East. The men of Rhûn and beyond practiced dark rituals and hidden magic in cabals and cults that meet only on dark moonless nights. That was why Harry chose to head East, he hoped to find some way of gaining a staff from them. His plan did not run much longer than that simple and focused intent.
There was one aspect of magic that he could still access though. Potions. Many of the plants and herbs he'd seen closely resembled those from his home. Many of the more unusual and magical ingredients were nowhere to be found but he had not expected as such. They had been rare even in his own world, he would not find such things by blundering in the wilderness.
It was unfortunate then that his skill with potions was mediocre. He had never bothered to memorise any potions as he'd been sure he would always have a book to refer to. He vaguely remembered some of the rules that Slughorn had managed to impart over his year of teaching but he doubted he could do much more than produce something interestingly wrong.
However he was more than willing to experiment with the last avenue of magic still open to him. As he walked towards the eastern mountains he began collecting small amounts of any plants he thought might prove useful. His end goal at for the time-being was a concoction that would regrow his teeth. Something similar to Skele-gro was what he wanted but it was years since he'd brewed that mixture in Snape's odious classroom.
He walked through the silent forest and muttered to himself as he tried to remember his old potion lessons. Skele-gro was not quite right, bones and teeth weren't the same thing but perhaps it could be modified in some way. If only he could remember the ingredients.
After more than a week of walking the mountains were now much closer and he could feel some of his strength returning to him. He had taken to consuming mere crumbs of the Elvish bread and the barest droplets of the strange water they'd gifted him. It seemed with each day his body found new fortitude and his strides became faster, his breathing slower.
He still looked like a corpse. His matted hair had been ripped out in places and though he had long since washed himself of the filth of Carn Dum it still looked lank and dead. His body was covered in crisscrossing scars that he could feel pulling uncomfortably when he moved. His hideous teeth were still broken and discoloured even after he scoured them with sand, accepting of the pain.
He felt his mind returning slowly to him as he came to the gradual realisation that he no longer needed to guard his memories so jealously and completely. He remembered the ingredients of Skele-gro now. Biting cabbage, scarab beetles and puffer-fish being at the core. He had no way of finding those ingredients but he might be able to find alternatives.
Dandelion flowers might work as a substitute for the biting cabbage, he was keeping an eye out for toads that might work in the place of the puffer-fish and he'd already collected some large beetles. He had no idea what those changes would cause together but he hoped that it would keep the approximate features of Skele-gro at the least. He could only hope. If he had to start potions research from near scratch then he had no idea where he could even start.
That night as he prepared to fall once again into his recurring nightmares he thought for a moment that he heard a distant howl upon the wind. His thoughts went for a moment to Remus and his dreams lingered instead on happier times.
Harry was shaken awake in the impenetrable blackness of the deepest night. "Who is that?" he grunted in the darkness as a barely visible set of sparkling grey eyes hovered just visible before him.
"Wargs," the person said in Westron, not bothering to answer his question, or not understanding it. "You must get the fire alight again, they fear it. I will help to keep them at a distance."
He knew Wargs, great wolves granted sentience by Morgoth , they could even speak, though he could not understand their tongue. Like so many of Morgoth's creations they were cruel flesh-eaters who would surely delight in ripping him and his unexpected companion limb from limb.
He set to work immediately. Low embers still glowed red in the ashes of last night's fire and he carefully coaxed them back to life with dry leaves and twigs. It took him just seconds to turn it back into a roaring inferno thanks to the heat that had been retained there.
The Wargs continued their attacks sporadically. Harry could see that they were playing with them. He could hear their cruel barking laughter in the dark woods beyond the light of his fire. His companion, whom he could now see was an Elf with long dark hair, would not be able to keep them at a distance once they decided to go for the kill.
She had no intention of making that easy, however. Her bow sung and arrow after arrow found its mark in their attackers. Most did not penetrate deep enough to kill but they were successfully keeping the creatures off the both of them.
The creatures of Morgoth; Orcs Trolls, Wargs, cared nothing for casualties. For them the thrill was to be found in the suffering of the enemy once bested, as many as the Elf could fell more would take their place and they would not be slowed by their fallen brethren.
He noticed his cooking pot by the fire, a tiny cauldron gifted to him by the Men and Elves who had also gifted him his freedom. Perhaps there was something he could do to aid her.
He hastily began adding the most unstable ingredients he'd been able to find to the mixture while stirring it roughly and without care to agitate them further. He paid no heed to the battle around him as he worked feverishly on his concoction. Death cap, yew sprig and horseradish were used as the base. Harry hoped that their associations with death and heat would see a large explosion. He then added a few ants, again for heat and he mixed it all together with an ash branch. The colour quickly began to darken and his stirrer was rapidly blackened, he hopes he had not gone too far but he could not afford half measures at a time like this.
Finally he saw it begin to boil and well up alarmingly and purple fire danced upon its broiling surface. He'd seen that kind of reaction before in Neville's cauldron and knew something impressive was about to happen, he just hoped it would be enough to save them.
He turned and wrenched the almost weightless Elf behind the nearby tree and he ignored them when they gasped in shock at his sudden action. They reached the protection of the tree just in time. The potion exploded outwards in a wall of coruscating purple flame the pained the night with eerie shadows and a dancing half-light. He felt the magical flames lick over his body as he tried to use his meagre mass to protect the Elf whom he now belatedly noticed was female and probably terrified.
He did not cry out as the last of his tired hair was burned from his head, he merely watched in satisfied silence as their attackers panicked as they found themselves wreathed in unquenchable flames. They howled and writhed upon the ground as the too familiar smell of burning flesh reached him and he did not look away.
He released the she-Elf and she stared around her in shock before looking at her lightly burned hands and hair. When she looked up at him he saw fear there, fear of what he was, fear of what he could do.
He simply ignored her, he did not know why she had been following him but he did not much care either. It was only wise to keep an eye on one such as he, those who had freed him were obviously not naive.
He cursed when he realised that he'd managed to destroy all of his equipment and food, the small backpack he'd been gifted had been burned to nothing with everything it contained. Even the little cooking pot had melted completely in the heat given off by the explosive concoction.
He looked at the scattered and charred remains of the Wargs and considered them for a moment. He knew that attempting to eat any of the creatures of Morgoth was enough to poison most men. He, however, was much hardier than most and immune to most illness thanks to his magic. How would the foul meat affect him? He eventually decided he did not wish to know. The forest through which they walked was not without food, many of the potion ingredients he'd found and, now, destroyed were edible too. His long year camping in the wilds of the UK had left him with a better knowledge than most of what was edible and what was not.
The skin too had been burned from their bones. There was very little he could salvage from them. If he had a container he would have liked to keep their hearts and livers for potion ingredients and possible components for experimentation in wand creation. He had nothing of the sort.
He looked over to the Elf and saw that she was moving again. She walked towards him and he turned to acknowledge her.
"You saved me," she said slowly, unsurely. "How?"
"I can use magic," he said in response but she heard only the words in the Black Speech, "Paash ushd dush mupsh."
Her eyes flickered to the shadows and corpses littered around them as if worried they might spring upon her. "I do not understand the Black Speech," she said uneasily, "could you not use another?"
Harry knew he could, it was a mental block that had been laboriously built but he would overcome it. "I. Use. Some. Magic," he said haltingly, each word bringing flashes of old pain to the forefront of his mind.
She immediately realised his plight and hastily apologised. "I am sorry, I did not know such speech would cause you so much pain."
Harry gritted his teeth. "No. Pain. No More. I Speak Westron," he ground out as he fought his now ingrained urge to flinch.
"You need not inflict it upon yourself for me," she nearly pleaded.
"Not. For. You. For me," he said slowly, deliberately. "Never. Slave. Again."
A look of understanding dawned upon her and he could see that she understood his meaning. The Black Speech was just another method of control over him, he would fight it as he fought everything else and he would win.
"Why. You. Follow. Me?" he asked her after a moment.
"Lord Glorfindel believed you were soon to die," she explained as guilt swam in her pale grey eyes. "I was to make sure your end was peaceful, I was to keep you safe until it came."
He nodded in acceptance yet felt a pang of regret at the knowledge that n such end would come. "No die. You can go," he said as kindly as his halting speech and foul appearance would allow.
"This task was given to me," she said firmly. "Had I not been here those Wargs would surely have ended you. My task is not done."
A small part of him almost wished he had died there but he would not allow such thinking to overwhelm him. He was free now. His life, such as it was, had been returned to him. He would make it worth something.
"Past mountains," he allowed eventually, seeing that she was adamant in her determination. "No further."
"That will do," she said with a swift bob of her head. "Once you are in the Vale of the Anduin you will be much safer."
He accepted her word for now and wondered for a moment at the easy trust he placed in her. After a long year of torture how was it possible that he could so easily trust one whom he'd never before known?
He decided it was her Elvish nature that made him grant her such trust. His knowledge of Middle-earth was incomplete but he'd been told of Elves. Nothing good. Arrogant, jealous and uncaring for lesser beings he'd been told.
He did not see it so. The Elves who had freed him at Carn Dum had been wary but kind to a fault. He would never have allowed one such as he to go free so easily. This Elf, he realised he didn't know her name, seemed to shine in his sight as if pure and unsullied. He felt guilty merely being near her, as if he could drown that might by his mere presence.
"Your name?" he asked as he looked about the campsite for anything worth salvaging. There was nothing.
"I am Daewen," she said as she watched him poke at his ruined supplies. "My own camp is very close, you may use my supplies if you wish."
Harry was amazed again at the charity he was being shown. Once upon a time he might have bristled at being shown such pity, as if such feelings diminished the purity of his suffering. He knew now it was not so, he would not turn away kind actions when performed unasked.
"Thank you," he said simply and inclined his head. He would have smiled had he not known how fearsome it looked.
A/N: So, English, finally (or Westron). That's a relief. Until I have to start doing Sindarin. Oh dear.