((I suppose it’s obvious this muse has been quiet lately. I love what Uvatha became as I wrote him, I really do, and I have loved exploring aspects of what it would be like for a slave of darkness, now freed back into the world and finding himself there, and I loved building a kingdom and culture for him, too.
But I’ll be blunt—I have lost interest and motivation for this muse, for various reasons. One big reason is that I only picked up Uvatha originally in order to round out Murazor's Nine and explore their dynamic, and with almost none of the other wraiths at all active anymore, there seems little point. He doesn't make sense in my head out of that context, somehow.
I’ve tried hard to keep him going, in fits and starts. But it always fizzles out again and my attention goes elsewhere.
I won’t call this a true hiatus. I suppose might get my inspiration back anytime, unpredictably.
But—for now—Uvatha is pretty much just gone.
Uvatha wandered Barad-dur almost aimlessly. He was far more familiar with Minas Morgul, far more comfortable there for all its darkness. His head was down and if he'd had a tail, it would have been tight between his legs. Up ahead, though, he smelled a familiar smell--Master! screamed his mind, while a quieter voice spat venom. But the quiet voice was far too quiet and so, with canine excitement, he loped around the corner to find his Master.
No one alive would have called Sauron a careless maia; but in the most recent days of his return to Mordor, one could easily make the mistake of assuming he’d become somewhat unobservant. His gaze was often fixed on some point in the distance, his movements slow and distracted. Sometimes he muttered calculations and recalculations, formulae and stratagems being rehearsed under his breath.
This state of inattention was in the result of his observing far too many things, all at once. The One Ring glowed white hot on his finger as he moved about armies like pieces on a chessboard, and gave commands to foremen in the hundred blazing smithies. The aspects of rule that required delegation had never sat easy with him; less because he was greedy for power than because the position of total command did not come naturally to him. He trusted no one. Every task was one he felt needed his direct attention, his personal direction, his micromanag—-
"Htolat Burz agh Gaash*!" He spat as he was caught off balance descended the tower stairs, landing squarely on his armored back, bowled over by an over-enthusiastic wraith. …The wraith that was now awkwardly sprawled atop his breastplate.
Uvatha, mortal-born as he was, stood intimidatingly tall and square-chested. When they’d met in ages past (as King and Gift-Bearer) they’d been a closely matched, physically. There had always been a hint of something between rivalry and narcissism in the Dark Lord’s appraisal of the Kaeltai leader.
That the wraith— being undead and one of the Second Born, could knock a maia on his arse with the excited fervor of a wargling, did nothing to improve that aggressive tension.
"Uvatha!" he snapped, growling with bared teeth as the furs on his shoulders bristled. The meaning, without words, was clear. "Withdraw. Lower yourself. Show obeisance.”
His anger was less than his shock; no more than the surprised yelping of one caught off guard, but it was a fearsome display no less. The pack-master had been slinking around the fortress walls, white-eyed and whining, for days now, and it was difficult to be outraged at him for his relief at something— anything— familiar.
"Down, wolf. Off master. Good boy." Sauron’s tone softened, remaining stern but amending his snarls with a show of forgiveness as he dusted himself off.
Uvatha landed atop his Master with a huff of breath. If he’d been able to make a sound, he would likely have been whining aloud. Instead, he blew air between his teeth in a low, long gust that was quite nearly a sigh—of relief, of pleasure, of simple and uncluttered happiness.
But he cringed away immediately as his Master’s displeasure made itself known, red eyes dropping and huge frame seeming to shrink in on itself. Alpha though he himself was, Master was Master, and it was therefore Uvatha’s role to please and to serve. He nudged at Master’s face with his own, gently, then rolled away as commanded, remaining on his knees as Master stood and brushed at himself.
Wide red eyes glowed in the fortress darkness as Uvatha watched Sauron with impassive submission—but as ever, his submission was tempered by an understanding of his own alpha nature, and his watchfulness included a calculation of relative strengths and weaknesses. He was cowed, yes—for now.
At last, Uvatha stood, unfolding to his full height beside his Master’s form, shoulders squaring and lean hips loose in his bones as he tilted his head and dropped his jaw in a silent, canine laugh. Master had fallen right over, and it had been so terribly fun! Perhaps now his Master would play? He had been so busy lately, had the Master, and had not made enough time for Uvatha, the Beastmaster thought.
Uvatha whistled shrilly through his teeth to catch Khamul's attention. It looked like the other wraith was stuck, dark robes snagged tight about a branch. When Khamul's eyes fell on his own, the big wraith signed. <<need help?>>
Their reputation left little to be desired so far as fearsomeness went, a fact which Khamul found downright hilarious, especially in light of his current situation. Ominous tattered shrouds were well and good, until you went scouting up a tree! And there he was, like a cat, quite good at climbing and terrible at descending.
Some portion of ragged cloth gave way with a sorrowful ripping noise as he jumped at Uvatha’s whistle; glancing down, he smiled crookedly, then twitched again as another bit of cloth gave - down he wanted, but not like this!
"Please. My arms are stuck."
Uvatha laughed his strange, silent laugh, and cast off his own encompassing black robes. Beneath, he wore only heavy boots, simple black trews, and a sleeveless jerkin. It was the work of a moment to catch a branch and haul himself by main strength up into the tree, and only a few moments more before the big wraith, surprisingly nimble and flexible for his size, had reached the trapped Khamul.
With careful fingers, he unwove and unstuck the tatters of the Easterling’s dark robe and then moved back along the branch he straddled, gesturing for Khamul to precede him.
My muses would like me to pass on a message: “sup”
"May I ask: is this a challenge?"
"Definitely a challenge. But I think that everyone who qualifies should be participating, so that the contest is fair. Where is Ji? And who shall be judge?"
*silent, challenging stare*
He could see that his words had insulted the king, which was never a good development.The ghost of a frown appeared on Annatar’s face for a split second before his expression returned to the placid mask it was previously. He would have to work for this, he realized with distaste; Uvatha wouldn’t be as easy as the other men were.
“Forgive me if I see impudent and rude, benevolent King. I mean no offense or affront to the work you have put into your goal of piece; indeed, I am astounded by the immense strides you have made in such an endeavor. I could never do such.” Ah, pride. It was always the pride that was wounded first. “I only meant that perhaps-“
His words were cut off by a clear, rich voice from the back of the room. Annatar turned to find the source. A woman came forward, beautiful, he noted, to stand beside the king. His guess was the queen, but he would make no assumptions. He was already treading on thin ice as it was.
He listened to the woman, and observed he sharply genuine smile with simple grace. She seemed to be vouching for him, or at least averting the annoyance of the king for the moment. He was grateful for that.
And it worked. A small smile appeared on Uvatha’s face as he introduced his queen. Annatar had the courtesy to laugh at his little jest. “She is the wisest of women I have met in my many travels. You are indeed a lucky ruler to have such a remarkable queen. “
Uvatha’s smile widened a bit at Annatar’s praise of his wife, courtly and practiced though it was. He had loved his Venhyvar since both of them were young, since before he had been king—even now, he was not sure he truly deserved her, but he was long past questioning his good fortune.
“She is among my closest advisors,” he said aloud, a hint of warning riding in his tone. Yes, she was beautiful, and yes, she was kind and was generous, and a good mother to their only son. She was also wise and clever, and her insights were often sharp enough to cut through the threads of a problem in which even Uvatha had found himself snarled.
If this Annatar wished to discuss politics and solutions, he would be speaking to Venhyvar as much as to Uvatha himself—Venhyvar, and the handful of other advisors who sat in Council with the King. But whether it was right to be so biased or no, it was Venhyvar to whom Uvatha listened most closely in most matters.
“That’s right!” she said now, placing a hand upon Uvatha’s shoulder and fixing Annatar with a grey-eyed stare. “And just now, I would advise letting our guest find his ease and refresh himself after his journey. We can discuss his proposal in-depth in Council tomorrow.” The slight emphasis upon the word “guest” reminded Uvatha of his duties; whatever else this Annatar was and would be, he was due the proper hospitality of the keep.
“My wife is more than correct, as always,” Uvatha said, standing and moving a few steps toward their visitor. “You are welcome to the keep of Kaemulothe, lord Annatar. Please, accompany my seneschal. He will show you to your rooms. We will feast tonight, and tomorrow, I shall convene my advisors to hear your words.”
//Whenever the question over the most handsome wraith comes on the dash, Ren is just here like
((And Uvatha’s just going, “Really? There’s actually any question?”
Uvatha thinks you smell lovely.
*points* THANK you!
See? Someone here has the refined olfactory sensibilities to appreciate my rich bouquet manliness!
Top notes of hot metal, sweat, and blood; heart-notes of charcoal fires and petrichor; and lingering base notes of oiled steel, leather, and wolf-fur. Perhaps just a hint of Umbarim cinnamon and amber…
If I could bottle it, I’d make a fortune.
«good smell. wolf smell. strong. alpha warg smell» agrees the undead wraith, who hasn’t had anything like a proper bath in nearly five thousand years and by this point has developed rather a strong odor himself.
There are observant eyes, and then there are the eyes of a habitually paranoid heir of Durin. Most dwarves run near-sighted; after all, one has little need of distance vision in craftsmanship such as smithing, but Durin’s line had, since its beginning, thrown archers, and thus in self-fulfilling prophecy, had bred for them, as the stout bow slung over Thorin’s back could attest.
Wary as a wild raven, and quiet in heavy boots more like a snow-cat’s claws than a horse’s hooves, the dwarf followed the thing and watched its cold breath that seemed, curiously, to pause whenever the terrain grew particularly demanding. Nothing living, then…Thorin followed the unliving thing out of arm’s reach, stepping where it stepped in avoidance of a long fall into icy darkness.
The slot cavern loomed suddenly out of howling shadow; the dwarf smirked into his beard. Such places offer good hiding, when not already claimed, which, by the smell, this was - the meat and musk of warg pungently accompanied the dry, clean mineral scent of granite and the alkaline grit of basalt.
Thus, as he followed the creature in, Thorin’s hand rested on the hilt of one of his hand-axes, and the other round the handle of his swordaxe. No hostility greeted him, though, only a huge head lifted and the thump of a brushy tail, followed soon by its six companions. Though Thorin let his hands fall from his weapons, he did not relax, instead busying himself with kindling, the better to observe the thing that had taken him to its den. Besides, on the off chance it proved truly hospitable, courtesy could do no harm.
Uvatha was impressed by the dwarf’s composure and restraint. He could smell the spike of wariness—not quite fear—engendered by the sight of the wargs, and yet the dwarf had not reacted otherwise, had not fallen into a defensive posture nor drawn a weapon nor even drawn a sharp breath. Wargs were by long tradition and misguided belief the enemies of all the free peoples of Middle Earth, and yet this dwarf had not shied from them nor attacked them by instinct.
He smiled mildly as he continued to build the base for a fire in the small depression serving as a firepit. Wargs were actually extremely intelligent beings, more so than the wolves they loosely resembled, and nearly as intelligent as the sentient races. They understood spoken speech, though their throats did not allow for it themselves, and were no more malicious than any wild creature. It was only their partnerships with creatures of malice which might make them thus, and their training. His own pack was the last he himself had raised with his own hands in Mordor and never had they been partnered with an orc pack nor borne a rider nor ridden to a battle against Men and Elves—nor dwarves, neither. If he had his way, they never would.
Uvatha was surprised when the small stub-fingered hands joined him in preparing the kindling. He looked up and made an empty sort of gesture, trying to indicate that it was far from necessary that the dwarf aid him, though appreciated. He huffed a breath through his teeth, feeling the limitations of his communication sharply. The wargs knew his signs, and the others of the Nine had also. But with strangers, it was—difficult, at best, even should anyone come close enough for long enough to even attempt communication.
Once the fire was set, Uvatha pulled out his flint and steel and struck careful sparks until the soft tinder caught, coaxing it into full flame with careful and long-practiced ease. The smoke did not cling and billow, but was sucked out through a nearly invisible crack in the cave roof which led out to fresher air.
Then he sat back and regarded the dwarf over the fire, waiting—for what, he could not say. Simply—waiting.
"Ah yes…that is true. Though I yet have to feel like a master." Ji Indur laughed again even if he could feel his nervousness grow again. There would be no visible reaction of his unliving body- no sweat, no fastened heartbeat, no hitched breathing. And yet in his movements and in his voice Uvatha would be able to tell quite easily that the other wraith still could not find any sort of enjoyment in what he had to do. But since this was considered training, having fun was not exactly top priority at the very moment. Testing the heavy gauntlets again he felt a bit more confident though that these garments would help him in completing his task.
Taking the reigns as they were offered to him he bowed back, grin widening. If any other of the Nine had been his teacher he might not even have asked for this lesson. But with Uvatha he felt not just safe but also protected from possible remarks he might have earned otherwise for lacking the ability to control this wretched creature. He did try to imagine Ren as his teacher though and… No, that would have never worked. as soft spoken as the other man was, trying to teach the pirate a certain skill would have ended up in a lot of scolding and glares. Was this idea more terrifying, hilarious or possibly even… Ah..it was best not to let his mind wander off into such directions right now.
"As ready as a man can be who almost fell to his…ah…un-dead a moment ago." He laughed again then slipped on top of the Fell Beast, trying to find a secure position, reigns tightly clutched in his heavy gauntlets. Why they hampered Uvatha’s attempts to sign they made the pirate feel a lot…stronger in a way. He wouldn’t mind clobbering the creature over the head if it would start acting up. Although violence was most likely not one of the options for him to choose from. "So…how do I tell it to fly again? If there was a command I fear I forgot it while falling."
Uvatha laughed his silent laugh as Ji Indur made his jests, pushing back fear with humor as the pirate was always wont to do. He liked Ji greatly, did the big wraith, though their tasks brought them together but seldom.
Not often did the animal trainer cross paths with the commodore of Mordor’s piratical navies unless it was in training, as now, or in a conference of all Nine together. And there, Uvatha tended to stay to the verges of things, not offering his opinions unless specifically solicited, staying not only silent by necessity but still and uncommunicative by long habit.
But here he was in his element in truth, and though Uvatha knew that Ji would never learn to love flying as Uvatha himself did, the pirate needed at least some mastery of the task for it had so been ordered. The Nine were to be riders, of horses or of fell beasts as needed.
Once Ji had found his seat once again, Uvatha climbed nimbly up behind and settled himself carefully, chest to Ji’s back and one arm loosely looped about the pirate’s body for support and balance. His brows raised at Ji’s question, but he didn’t answer. The pirate needed to learn to do this for himself, and the command was simple. Uvatha merely waited; his presence this time was only for support should Ji Indur falter again. The pirate himself was the flier now.