For Into Darkness Fell His Star
By Dolores J. Nurss
Chapter 43, Part 184
The Entwife's Tale
June 20, 1452
Helplessly the Entwife stood before the cave, guarding the lovers
within. A soft rain wept down upon her, dripping from her twigs. As the
wind built up and the rain turned hard, she writhed a bitter dance,
wildly swaying her limbs and even her trunk. The tunics that hung from
her boughs fluttered and whipped around each other until the gale at
last tore them away, to fly up for a space, then tumble down into the
mud. She whom Frodo had misnamed Hazel turned her face up to the
lightning--the barklike skin, long split and ravaged by more than time
and weather, now drenched in storm--and defied the bolts to strike her,
to strike and burn away the memories!
Oh yes, she recognized the Unworthy One whose wedding to Frodo Gardner
she had witnessed. She did recall the climber of her boughs, how she
had sensed the love within the creature and so had let her pass. And
then came the poisoning after, Frodo all but dead--she remembered that,
too. Typical, that she would not recognize, until too late, the worm of
sickness within the budding love, blighted by Annatar, the King of
Ever had she recognized the truth too late. Oh, but she did know
Annatar of old, and how he tortured the best of things into strange
shapes, and so she had refrained from strangling Unworthy One on the
day they met again, even though the creature, obviously ailing now, had
no defenses left. Instead “Hazel” had witnessed love suffusing Frodo’s
face–answered in Unworthy One’s own hectic features--and it stabbed her
to the core, so she had stood unmoving, let them pass, even guarded
them together, and mourned her own tormented loves.
It had all begun so well! Had not Annatar and the entwives prized the
same goals, desiring only to bring order and plenty to Middle Earth?
Had they not begun with farms so prosperous that every bough on every
tree groaned and cracked with fruit, turnips grew the size of pumpkins
and pumkins the size of carriages, and fields stretched out like
nations, endless miles of grain as far as the eye could see? Had not
all good things seemed possible, for any who had the courage to seize
control of the land and make it do her will?
She and the other entwives had treasured Annatar and all of the marvels
that he promised them. At first Annatar had walked mainly with their
husbands, and the entwives left them to their ramblings together, while
they themselves tended the more important business of teaching the
Speaking Peoples everything needful and fair of the granger’s arts. But
as time went on, Annatar turned more and more to the entwives, as
though fed up with the uncouth ents, interested now in the labors and
joys of the succulent fields.
Whenever it amused him, Annatar could rise up in their midst like a
handsome ent taller than them all, strong yet supple of trunk, crowned
in a verdant blaze of leaves. The entwives stood about his roots and
gazed up like entings learning ancient lore. Long he spoke to them,
lingering in the land that he gave to them. While the real ents stomped
about in messy wilds, leaving themselves disheveled and unpruned for
year on year, forgetting hearths and farms, the entwives listened to
the counsel of someone like them only so much better.
It happened in the spring. At first the entwives, bedecked in their
gayest flowers, wandered by ones and twos to the western border of the
gardened lands, calling for their husbands. All creatures loved the
luscious, woody voices of the entwives singing. They waited for the
proud trumpeting of the ents to waft back to them across the distances.
Their blossoms opened wide, eager to receive the pollen that the songs
would bear, floating on the wind, each blossom knowing and finding her
own beloved’s blessing. Yet no one answered, for the ents had wandered
far, so far that even the winds of that place did not breech the miles,
and no song came to them. So the entwives turned around, their crowns a
little bowed, and returned to Annatar to hear him teach.
One fine spring day soon after, Annatar, in entlike form, held forth on
the virtues of cross-pollinization, of the hybridizing of seeds and
ideas and more, so much so exquisitely more. To their amazement and
delight, blossoms burst forth on Annatar, all within a day, blossoms so
rich in color that they seemed black to a casual glance, but the
entwives gazed in and saw color upon color within, hypnotized by the
infinite layers and swirls that they imagined there. They leaned closer
and closer, forgetting all words, utterly under the spell. Then,
unexpectedly, with intoxicating fragrance, the sweetest pollen puffed
from deep within, and they all swooned in a ring around the King of
Gifts. While the ents explored the wilds and laughed about the freedom
of camping far from the bother of their wives, for as long as they
should please and let no one nag them otherwise, the wives learned
As the seasons wore on and still no ents came home, the entwives
thought it a blessing that the husbands stayed away. None must see the
dark and swelling fruit, heavier and heavier until their own boughs
broke, no birth ever so painful to them before. None must see the flesh
rot from the seeds, so bitter that no animal would touch it. Especially
none must see the entwives do the most terrible thing of all, in shame
and fear: sweep the seeds into the deepest, darkest caverns they could
find, where no rain reached and no sun blessed, in cracks of stone
where nothing could take root.
But while they toiled in those subterranean places, the mountains fell
on them! For Annatar, revealed as Sauron now, had commenced the riving
of the land. Nor did it displease him to capture here such useful
slaves--as he had intended all along.
Deep beneath the ground, never knowing day from night, nor the phases
of the moon, nor the turning of the seasons, the entwives nevertheless
knew the moment when the entings should have sprouted. For their bosoms
ached and wept with sap, a nourishment that dribbled useless to the
ground, until their breasts dried up again, shriveling like hearts that
gave up hope. Oh how they wished to die and join their young!
Sauron did not permit them death. Foul draughts he gave them, in
miserly measure, and artificial lights he shone on them at times, that
burned their leaves along the rims although it kept them fed. Yet they
had to work for even so little as that--hard work, grim and long. And
instinct made them do it, for the body usually wants to live, even when
the mind despairs.
The light shone only in his laboratories, where they crushed his ores
until their toes and fingers blistered and then bled, and after this
they concocted from his rocks and the earth’s black blood such potions
as could force a plant to grow according to their master’s will, or
poison any creature that displeased him. Sauron pried from them all
that they knew of growing things, blended with his own artifice--thus
did he achieve the hybridization of ideas that he had praised
before–and he made them bring it into fruition, forcing them to fashion
sharp-stinking substances that made them sick to breathe the fumes. The
entwives grew wan and wilted and thought their lot a bitter one indeed.
But the worst was yet to come.
Sauron suffered a setback. The entwives thought that their fortunes had
turned, for the guard upon them--stone-made creatures without
independent mind--failed at once to see or move, becoming mere statues
at the doors. Painfully the entwives wrenched their way out of their
dungeons, ripping up through the earth like seedlings that will climb
though anything to reach the sun. And sun they did find, of a dim and
smoky sort, and long they stood, leaned this way and that, just soaking
up that light, building up their strength, till they could walk again.
All creatures fled the disheveled things who lumbered now across the
land, and the Entwives noted this. They saw no respect anywhere they
turned, not what they had become used to in their former days. It
seemed to them likely that Sauron had boasted of their downfall far and
wide, that folk must speak of entwives only in derision, that none
would ever again seek the wisdom of such soiled beings. How could they
even hope that the ents would bother to seek the fate of wives who
could only now disgust them? Indeed, the entwives thought it best to
avoid all decent company evermore.
It took them months, in their weakened state, to return to the home
that they had made for themselves on the outskirts of Sauron’s
territory. They longed to see its greenness once again, all of the
gardens, all of the fields, the orchards soon in bloom, the wells and
pleasant little cottages for men who sought to study under them, the
meadows and the granaries, in all the wealth of colors that the sun
after a rain could show. They hoped to make it there by spring. They
thought the scent of flowers would guide their final miles. They limped
on, bowed and withered, towards their heart’s desire.
They traveled several miles through it before they recognized their own
domain. The Brown Lands men now named it--an endless, rolling waste
where nothing grew. When they realized where they were they sank deep
roots and howled--howled so loudly and so long, and with so much pain
of soul, that men could hear them miles away, and shuddered, and barred
their doors. Yet this did not plumb the nadir of the entwives’ sorrows.
Not quite yet.
They found the Children. They found the heartless, evil Children,
sprouted in the dark, raised without love. Their father had located
them all, rescued them and steeped them in his ways. The Children hated
and tried to slay the mothers who had tried to slay them. Some of the
entwives let them succeed, without a fight, despairing in their shame.
Others barricaded themselves in lifeless fortresses of rock, yet could
not bring themselves to attempt to harm a second time the entings that
now turned on them. And so the Children lived on for a little while,
weakened by the hatred that consumed them from within till one by one
they shriveled and they died. Yet even so, these existed long enough to
take on mates far stranger than their mothers ever did.
For, long before, Morgoth had attempted Aule’s feat, creating beings of
his own from the rocks and metals that he loved more dear than living
things. Yet unlike Aule he would never stoop to submitting them to
Illuvatar for judgment, and so they had no souls. Mere toys, puppets to
his will, they walked the earth whenever darkness fell and he desired
that they prowl, but he had to order their every move, and soon he
tired of their drain on him.
Ages later, Sauron came across a cavern filled with dumb and motionless
ranks of Morgoth’s misbegotten toys, abandoned in the dark. Sauron
learned the power to make them move and act, to his delight. He had
used such things as guards, in fact, upon the Entwives in their long
imprisonment, for no other creature had the strength to hold in check
such mighty slaves.
Yet Sauron found another use for others of the walking rocks, while the
entwives toiled in the dark. The entings had never known love, and so
did not notice its absence when their father gave them wives and
husbands without mind nor heart. Helplessly the entwives watched the
proliferation of the Grandchildren--stony creatures who inherited mere
fragments of a soul apiece, and barest slivers of an independent wit,
yet enough for Sauron to do his work upon and then set loose.
Most astonishing of all, some did resemble ents indeed, and in more
than just their looks. Some retained a capacity to love, if given half
a chance. The entwives sought out as many of these special ones as they
could find, stole them back to cherish and to teach. The Grandchildren
could never understand as much as a normal ent. They couldn’t master
Entish, for one thing, though they managed a brutal version of the
Common Tongue. But some could respond to kindness like a flower turning
towards the sun.
Their grandmothers loved them, and kept them near, repenting their sins
against the Children. Even so, the entwives found this difficult, for
the Grandchildren, like their rock-forged parents, could not abide the
sun, and took their nourishment in fashions strange to their maternal
line. Reluctantly, loathing what they did, the Entwives learned to hunt
for them, and brought them flesh to eat. But a grandmother will do
anything for a child with special needs. After awhile the Grandchildren
learned to hunt on their own, venturing out into the night, strangling
whatever sleeping animals they could find. It didn’t matter. For some
their natures remained sweet indeed, in spite of everything.
Sauron, of course, found out. Sometimes by ones and twos, sometimes in
packs, he trapped the traitors, the most entish of the trolls, out in
the open fields that the fools seemed to love so well, chaining them
with adamant that even they could not wrench free. And then he left
them to the Sun, for it amused him that his old enemy should kill for
him. These throwbacks among the Grandchildren might appear like ents,
but in the sunlight they reverted to the rocky nature of their other
parents. Ever after men would find, and wonder over, what seemed like
trees or groves or even forests of fallen trunks and branches made
entirely of stone. The entwives knew where every one of them had
fallen, and in their wandering they would pause at times to weep over
In the meantime Sauron bred the rest of his brood into the trolls that
all folk came to fear. Less and less like ents they looked and acted
with every generation. As ents grew more treeish the longer they lived
among trees, so these bastard entings resembled the stones that they
crouched among whenever the sunlight threatened them. Sauron took their
education into hand, steeping them in cruelty and brutishness. Some few
he even managed to breed that could tolerate the light--exploiting an
elusive gene from their entish foremothers--though he never quite
achieved the armies of daylight trolls that he desired.
The storm raged on, over the cave by Poros Pass. Long did the entwife
called Hazel weep in the dark, and her tears mingled with the rain that
whipped her. It had not all been so cut and dried as she had wanted to
remember it. That had hurt the worst. Yes, some of the Grandchildren
loved indeed, while others had seemed half-capable of love, yet without
a grasp of the entire concept. She never quite could tell when they
would lie to her, and when they genuinely cherished her. She never knew
what spiteful things they might surprise her with, for reasons they
themselves could seldom say. And some who loved all wrong inflicted
terrible injuries on her in the belief they did her good, gashing at
her in a mad attempt to prune, poisoning her with what they took for
wholesome food, or going into jealous rages against others in their
midst for her name’s sake.
She found she could not help but love them anyway. She would have
crushed to death anyone who tried to stop her from cherishing the
And so she understood, oh she understood too well, Frodo’s love for the
Unworthy One. Who was she to interfere? He would have to suffer, even
as she did. She could not spare him that. He would not want her to.
Soon or late, all things grew tangled in the gardens of Fair Annatar!
HERE ENDS VOLUME V.