At dawn, the Black Easterling was spotted approaching from the north. He was seen by my Orcs long before he reached my camp, for there are now thousands of Orc camps together here, and about me there is a great sea of black armour and thick, goblin skin.
It was not in sunlight I watched the Nazgul approach on his black steed, but in the diffused and grey bruised light of the overcast day. Orcs cleared a path between him and me. The host was a thick corridor to either side of me, twittering in apprehension or cowering in fear. The best of them merely watched. Crebain wheeled above us.
The rider dismounted a hundred and fifty paces from me. And as he strode towards me, I saw that the shadows within his consummately black garb had begun to drift apart, and it seemed eventually to be as black sand drifting in the wind, and soon all that remained was his Ring of Power, which I took.
I had ordered two nearby abandoned mines to be reopened and later in the day I went to one just west of my camp, leaving Zogulth and Durzehth to troop inspection reports. They would tell me little I did not already know; many of the hordes had softened, but they were all keen now to spill the blood of the people of the West.
I walked past the five or six astonished Orcs at the mine's entrance and was soon striding through complete darkness. But light no longer holds any utility for me. Did I know why I entered the mine? I am not sure. It seems now that many of my actions manifest without any forethought from me. It seems this power within me knows where to find what fuel it needs and draws me to such sources.
In the dark before me, there was for a moment a flickering light, a small candle nearly spent, and utterly spent in the next moment. It was held by the thin, trembling hand of the greygirlbeast, whom I perceived huddled against the jagged and cold wall. Her poor, naked form was yet wrapped in my cape and her eyes probed desperately at the dark. She knew I was there.
Her breath caught, but she did not move and said nothing.
"So, what was it you meant to gain in these lands, my poor little infiltrator?" I knelt beside her, and the strain on my metal leg caused black ooze to pour from its edges, something to which I had by then become accustomed. It filled the close air of the chamber with the smell of burning flesh.
When she did not respond I grasped her chin between thumb and forefinger and felt her shudder. I stroked her jaw line with the metal tip of my gauntleted finger. "You don't have to die here. Why don't you think about what you really want?"
My other hand covered her breast, then, the metal biting into soft flesh. "A shieldmaiden is, in the end, a soft thing. But you're a beast, aren't you? You are more than a maiden, now." I stood, and made her to stand with me, which she did on unsteady legs.
She finally spoke; "I . . . I have something to do."
"When the doubt is cast from your mind," I said, breathing the words in her ear, "and the world is on your side . . . you can do anything you want. And you want to strip this world of its destructive cloud, and reveal plain rock, mutable by your fist."
Her head leaned against my shoulder. I said, "You know how you may do this. I will help you."
The greygirlbeast let out a great breath, then, and put her small hand upon my mail shirt. I put my arms beneath her and carried her in the darkness.