Middle-earth time is:
Daytime on Hevensday, Day 29 of June.
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Real time is: 23:49:29 MDT on Tue Feb 11 2003.

Falls of the Gulduin: Outside Sarn Goriwing
You stand before the crashing black cascades of the source of the Gulduin. Strange water, cool and thin but opaque even as it splashes and sprays in the air, flows in a misty black fall from obsidian rocks which hang overhead, then swirls and eddies in a swift, wide rocky stream before tumbling over more falls below, dropping to the long Enchanted River which winds north into Mirkwood. The air is dark and cold, overcast by thick clouds even in the brightest summer noon, and brisk with the spray of the river, but your senses reel somewhat from the merest hint of the potent liquid.
But more dramatic than even the black cascades, perhaps, is the blacker spire of glassy rock which rises from and among them: for between the falls rises a Tower. Hewn, it seems, of the rock itself, it rises nearly two hundred feet above the stream which runs about its base. The uppermost reach of the spire juts above the highest waterfall, rising above a surrounding narrow precipice of stone. Narrow, seemingly empty windows can be seen here and there in the Tower. A long open bridge of fallen trees leads across the stream, to a gate within the Tower wall. It seems the only way in.

Uruk Camp

In the shadow of the towering trees of Mirkwood, the Camp of the Mordain sits. Nestled shaggily between the trees and the Gulduin. The steady, rhythmic clang of metal clashing with metal can be heard. Yet, it is not of combat. Upon the shore of the Gulduin, is the hulking form of the Lugburzob Master Smith. His muscles ripple as he brings down his hammer upon the anvil. Again, and again he pounds the black blade. Beside him is a roaring fire, fed by various oils. The flames lick the metal, super-heating it to a maleable temperature, before he withdraws it and returns to pounding it relentlessly. Sweat drips from his form.
His muscles are slick with it, both from exertion and from the heat of the blaze. His armor lies in the dirt, leaving only his waist down covered. He holds the handle of the scimitar, seeming to critique his work. He grins, and moves down towards the black water of the Gulduin, a trail of smoke issuing from the newly forged blade. Suddenly, he stabs the red-hot blade into the liquid. It hisses violently, as the blade cools. Impressed with his handy work, Nargakh strides back to his anvil, where it sits in the sodden dirt of the shore.

Cold mists drift from the black cascades and creep along the damp ground. They carry with it chill of the cold streams... and something else, even colder.
The shiny rock spire casts a long pointed shadow into the cloud of roiling mist. The shadow moves, wavers, condenses from vague grey into pitch-black shape of a tall hooded figure. Mist and dew on the ground glitter like tiny ice shards, and chill just as much.

"Huh?" Nargakh says, stricken with a sudden shudder. His spine jerks somewhat, dread rising in his throat as he turns to view the approach of the figure. He drops the scimitar to the the roll of rotton fabric, used to store his newly completed weapons. His shoulders sag for a moment, and then his entire body flinches. His muscles tensing, rippling beneath his black skin. He breathes out, never relinquishing his gaze from the hooded figure. His features contort somewhat, lacking confidence before the figure, for there is only one thing it could be. He searches for words, actions.. Something! But all has escaped him, he can only watch in awe and terror.

Gothmog steps out of the misty cloud, and walks across the dewed ground. Frost forms in his wake on the few blades of grass which survived the stomping of the hordes of Mordor. The black figure eerily floats over the ground, its feet hidden in the grey mist. Slowly, it makes its way to the forge.

Frozen in place, Nargakh can do naught but watch as the Nazgul moves toward him. Each step booms in his blood-filled ears, synchronized with his pulse. Shakily, he puts his hammer on top of the anvil, all the while keeping his eyes upon the approaching figure. He finds words, at last.
"A shrieker.." Nargakh murmurs, his legs failing him as his knees buckle, "By the Eye.. Command me.."
His words are but whispers, yet there is no doubt in his mind that the Nazgul had heard him.

"The smell, yes, I've smelt it before." A hissing voice resonates from the secret folds of shadows cast, for the forge's light does not succeed in casting all the blackened pitch of darkness aside. It is from the shadows that two glowing eyes of blazing hate appear, crimson in their hue, and bearing malice for all that would behold them.
"The bosses are about, yes. A shrieker, no good will come of it, no good ever comes from it." The disembodied eyes will let loose even more sound from the hidden mouth that lies somewhere near in the night. Soon the forge's light will catch movement as Nerg makes his presence known, creeping from the folds of the evening to embrace the warmth of the smith's fiery creation.

The scorching sun that hovers at the zenith of the sky seems to do nothing towards disturbing the heap-like figure of the Voice Shaman that sits in silence near a crudely-erected shrine. Blood covers his face, black blood, the blood of a fellow uruk, though the body of this phantom corpse is nowhere to be seen. Blood also covers the shrine, built from a few thrown together rocks and the stabbed-through skull of an elf, and upon the forehead of this skull is drawn the form of a great Eye, with the same blood that covers the Shaman. His eyes are closed, and one would almost believe that he is asleep but for the low hum that emitts from his oversized mouth. Every once in a while, his eyes flicker, rolling back in their head as his lids hover in the grey area between being open and closed.
" I sense the presence of one of great power," he says at last, his lids popping open and his eyes righting himself. The speech that he speaks seems to drip with the chaos and death sown into the Black Speech by the Eye himself, the fell syllables of that dark tongue halting and grating. " A sign of favour from the Eye." He looks about, his eyes darting back and forth as he scans the camp to catch sight of the Eye's servitor, the slave to the band.

The Warmaster, cloaked in dark shadows and black mantle, approaches the forge, but halts several steps away from the fires. The heat of the forge chases away the mist, but the red glow of the burning oil is just as helpless before the darkness of the Warmaster's shape as is the sunlight.
"Show me your work", a hoarse loud whisper emanates from the void under the deep black hood.

Leaping to his feet, Nargakh stumbles over to where his new scimitar lies. He grips the handle uneasily, lifting it. The wickedly curved blade is of a black shade. At the end, a point protrudes backwards, allowing further flesh to be slashed. Holding it before him, Nargakh awaits the comment of the Nazgul Warmaster. He grips the blade thoughtlessly, far too hard. Dark blood drips from a cut on his finger, where the keen blade had bitten its maker.
"Here it is.."

" The Lidless Eye is watching us now," Burgakh closes his eyes once more, applying fresh blood to his drying cheeks and inclining his head towards the speechless skull that sits atop the shrine. Slowly, he rises, forcing his aged weight upon the blackened cane at his side, making his way towards where the smith and the wraith meet. He is silent, content to observe the Nazgul at this time, taking in its every movement with the reverence of one who has spent the good part of his life in utter subservience to the lord that controls the creature that now walks about the camp of the uruks.

The hand in a black glove separates from the shadowy figure, and picks the blade from smith's hands. Gothmog raises the curved blade to the level of his unseen eyes. Pale white glow slowly spreads along the sharp edge. "The might of the Eye will need better weapons". Long fingers release the blade, and it falls to the ground, ringing in protest of such treatment. "Heat it again", rasps the Warmaster, then turns to the makeshift shrine and the shaman ministering to it. "Shaman..." Long shadow falls across the damp ground toward the orc.

The blood-red sun sinks below the dark, cinder-ridden, and cloud-filled horizon, leaving the night pitch black.

" Master," the Shaman replies, answering the Nazgul's address with the speech of the Dark Lord. The might of Anor sinks below the horizon, giving way to night, and a new life for the uruks of the camp. Burgakh meets the glowering shadow of the wraith by hitting the ground, dropping to the ground in observance of proper respect for beings such as he.
" What is your will, honoured servant of the Master?" Burgakh asks, his head lowered in contemplation of his cane, his eyes averting the glare of the Warmaster. " Your command is my wish to fulfill, for I am ever at your service."

Nodding with increased vigor, Nargakh turns back to his roaring fire. With a thrust, he shoves the blade of the scimitar deep within the fire. It heats easily, turning a blazing orange within moments of being in the presence of the dancing tongues of flame. For some time, does Nargakh wait before removing the blade. He takes his hammer to it, thinning it out. With each stroke of his hammer, he crafts the blade. He removes the the spike at the tip, seperating the metal and adding serration to the opposite side of the blade.
The Master Smith trudges down the bank, steam and smoke trailing from the super heated metal. He kneels before the running obsidian murk, gripping the handle of the scimitar. He wields the blade, slashing the liquid thrice, before plunging the blade up to its hilt into the deep. As he withdraws the blade, it has undergone a rapid change. The blade is in a strong curve, wrought of black metal. One side of the blade is keen and flat, while the upper portion of the reverse is rather serrated, for hacking limbs. As he swaggers up toward his forge, the Master Smith eyes the blade, seemingly satisfied. Yet, the satisfaction of the Nazgul is what is required, and Nargakh's own satisfaction may indeed be far from that of the Shrieker. He swings the blade, cutting the air several times audibly. As he reaches the Shrine of the Voice Shaman Burgakh, he waits. Nargakh balances the scimitar upon the scarred skin of his inner fore-arms, held out for the Nazgul Warmaster's viewing.

" Yes, you are", responds the Warmaster in Dark speach, and coming from him, the words seem to summon darkness itself. His shadow grows and spreads like black wings. " The weapon must be thirsty for blood." He then continues in the language that all uruks understand, 'Do you have a sacrifice to the Eye ready?' The head, concealed by the black hood, turns to glance around the camp. Surely, if a sacrifice is not ready, one will be swiftly found.
"Did I tell you to cool it?" the whisper raises almost to a high-pitched shriek, and the blade in the hands of the smith feels like it's burning hot again.

" Yes, my Lord," Burgakh says, head still inclined towards the Warmaster. His twin red eyes dart about, peering around for one who may serve to satisfy the thirst of the Eye. " The life of the Rakarg of the Forge shall be used to fulfill the will of the Nameless one," the Voice Shaman continues, his eyes happening upon the approaching Nargakh. " For the Smith is insolent, placing his crude crafts above the worth of the Great Eye. His lifeblood shall run to sate the hunger of Our Lord, and thank him for granting us victory against the alliance of tarks, albai, and gazat."

Shadows swirl about the black figure, distorting its shape, so it seems that the Warmaster is looking at the Shaman, then the Smith, then the Shaman again. Finally, the Nazgul speaks again, and this time the words cut sharper than any blade, each one tearing directly into the mind, cut after cut, " I ... will ... judge ... who ... is ... insolent"

"Aargh!" yells Nargakh, flinching. The Master Smith grabs the haft swiftly, his features contorting with agony as his forearms are severely burned by the metal. He pants, as if trying to compensate for the burns by breathing. He runs, dropping the blade, to the disgusting water gathered in a barrel beside his anvil. He winces as his burns are soothed, as much as he would like to remain here and recover, he knows the Nazgul is waiting.
Placing the blade into the fire, Nargakh waits. While the blade heats, he swaggers back to the two figures, his mild orcish gait slowing him. He catches the eye of the Voice Shaman, his eyes narrowing as he caresses his wounds.
"I don't like that look you just gave me, Shaman.. What ever you are thinking, forget it." Nargakh spits, his mouth contorting with malevolence.

Burgakh glances towards the Rakarg, a smirk washing across the wrinkled depths of his features. His hand tightens about the handle of his cane as he peers at the Smith. ''You don't like many things, Rakarg,'' the Shaman says, chuckling beneath his breath in the tongue of the orcs, ''but now is not the time for preferences. You stand in the presence of your lord... even a warrior like yourself should be smart enough to lower yourself when you confront Him.''
His head lowers once more and he turns again to the Warmaster, nodding at the knife-like words that issue from his mouth. " Your decree shall stand," he says, resuming the Eye's speech. " And you shall be judge, jury, and executioner in this case of insolence."

"You failed to find acceptable sacrifice, Shaman", hisses Nazgul. This time, the voice is quiet, and the words flow smoothly, but they are filled with malice. The shadow cast by the dark figure onto the orc deepens, and the miriad stars, tiny reflections in the crystals of frozen dew on the ground, all go out.

Without a word, Nargakh moves to retrieve the scimitar from the flames that engluf the blade. Gingerly, he grips the handle, and withdraws it from the flames. He brings the blade across to the Nazgul, holding it warily before him. Smoke rises in twisting ribbons from the brightly burning blade.
"Here it is.. The burning blade.."

" The Smith is a sacrifice worthy of the Eye himself, my Lord," the Shaman says, his words level and calm, his speech in the tongue of Mordor once again. " For he knows not his place before your might. Proud, he is, and defiant of the Eye's will. A danger he is within the higher ranks, and one who should be done away with to prevent the blasphemy that he speaks from spreading." The cane is clutched all the harder as Burgakh peers once again towards Nargakh. " Even now, he gives you the gift of fire and yet spreads deceit behind your back. He shall do as a gift of blood to the Eye, better than any other who we may grant to the Master."

"The Eye needs the labor of this slave, today" The finger in the black glove flicks toward the Smith, pointing at him for a split second. Then the hand shoots out, with fingers outstretched, toward one of the forge apprentices, who left the job of tending fires to watch the confrontation of the Smith and the Shaman. The fingers curl into a fist, as if grabbing the snaga from a distance. "His blood will temper your weapon and cool it", the impenetrable darkness of Gothmog's "face" stares at Nargakh.

" Your will shall be done," comes the voice of Burgakh from his bowed head, the syllables of Morbeth once again issuing forth from his maw. " And I shall strive to serve the Eye better in the future, for I have failed Him now..." With this, the deep black blade of Burgakh is drawn and brandished in his right hand. The scimitar is brought down by the Shaman onto his left arm, the arm that now grasps his cane in a death-like grip.
A string of black blood pours from the top of his forearm as a deep gash is cut from the ending of his hand to his elbow. It will serve as a constant reminder of his folly, and its pain will smart with the remembrance of the Shaman's failure to provide apt sacrifice.

"By your command.." Nargakh murmurs, he brandishes the burning blade with malevolence. Rounding on the Snaga, Nargakh eyes him carefully. Two other forge bearers stand to the side a little, Nargakh looks to each of them, his borne features testament to his seriousness.
"Hold him still.." Nargakh says, spinning the blade. He strides forward and plunges the blade deep into the chest of the snaga. The blade passes through him like a stone through water. His inerds disintergrate and squelch together, before being completely cautorized. Nargakh lets the blade rest in the chest of the Snaga for but a moment, before withdrawing the blade with a sickening squelch. The blade has taken on a black shade, yet again. But this time, there is a hue of red upon it. Nargakh lets the snaga fall onto his back, before handing the blade to another snaga and motioning for him to follow. The two move to the Nazgul.
"Here it is.. The blade has been completed." Nargakh says, gesturing to the snaga. Nargakh pauses, eyeing Burgakh with distaste,
"Shaman.. I will not forget your eagerness to end me, as I summed from the words of the lord. You have crossed me, and that was not wise. The Eye chose for me to remain in his service, remember that.." Nargakh says darkly, anger dancing behind his eyes. It extinguishes, however, when the Rakarg looks to the Nazgul,
"If it is to your satisfaction, have the snaga put it away when you have completed your review of it.." Nargakh manages, under the eye of the Nazgul, "The Eye demands that my work be done.. And I need to distribute the weapons I have forged this night.. Away." With that, the Rakarg disappears into the darkness. A mere silhouette, a shadow of his form still yet slick with sweat that shimmers in the firelight.

Without turning his way, Gothmog speaks to the Shaman in the Dark Tongue, and his words come out with a certain rythm, like a spell chanted. Darkness coalesces around the shaman in black rays like ropes, " You have presumed that I will not see the hidden purpose behind your words, shaman."
With a wave of his hand, the Warmaster commands for the newly forged blade to be brought to the shaman, instead of putting it away. 'This weapon has thirst for blood now, having tasted it once', proclaims the Nazgul menacingly. " Take it..."

A diminunitive snaga, one who stayed at work instead of looking on at the turmoil that brewed in the centre of camp as the sacrificial victim did, walks forth to bear the burnt black blade to Burgakh. He takes it in both of his hands, palms upward and pressed against the blade, wincing as it burns into the flesh of his fingers. Finally he reaches Burgakh, who kneels near the Nazgul watching his lifeblood seep from his self-inflicted wound.
" I thank you, my Lord, for bestowing upon me this favour," Burgakh says, looking up from his wound and extending his right arm. " The blade shall taste of my flesh, and my arms shall feel fire and blood, the twin blessings of the Eye." Hesitating a moment, the snaga then thrusts the blade forward, towards the extended arm of the Voice Shaman.
There is the squeal of flesh singed by fire as the blade runs through the skin of Burgakh. A shudder-- half-pleasure and half-excruciating pain-- courses through the Shaman's body as he winces at the blow from the blade. Finally, he withdraws his hand from the blade-branding and bows his head towards the wraith once more. " It is done, Master."

"Now put it away until it's time", commands the Nazgul to the apprentices. He wraps himself tighter in the black robe, and with this gesture, pulls inwards the shadows he was casting, and the black rays of darkness. Black against the dark night, like a hole cut out of the forest landscape, the wraith walks into the mist.