The Ninth of the Nazgûl (Q. "Ulaire nertea") was also known as The Black Horseman, The Shadow-Lord and The Reaver of Khand.
Names and Identities
- the Black Horseman
- the Horseman
- the Khudriag-Ata - his title as god-king of Khand
- the Long Rider
- the Messenger of Guldur - his title as Messenger of Dol Guldur
- Ninth of the Nine
- The Reaver of Khand
- the Shadow-Lord
- Ulaire Nertea - his name among the High-Elves
- Ûvatha Achef - according to legend his birth-name (Ûvatha of the Akhev Clan)
- Ûvathar the Horseman - his name in a later spelling
The Legend of the Black Horseman
The Origin of Ûvatha
Ûvatha the Horseman, the Ninth and most undisciplined of Sauron’s Ringwraiths, was born in the caves of Olbamarl as Ûvathar Achef in S.A. 1970. His father Kîonid Achef was an exiled Ioriag (Ancestors of the Variags) Prince from later Laorki in eastern Kha-on. The young warrior shared the pain and uncertainty of his family’s continual flight, and the nomadic life that he led throughout his early years hardened him for the trials to come. Ûvatha rode a horse earlier than any Ioriag thought possible, and killed a man before he reached the age of seven. When he was nearing the age of eighteen in S.A. 1988, he led the light cavalry wing of his father’s rebel army at the battle of Noz Peka (V. “Knife River”), where his gallant charge against the southern Ioriag's King’s Guard decided the war that restored his family to the throne of Upper Kha-on.
Kîonid Achef died at Knife River, so his brother Mionid took the second most powerful throne among the southern Ioriags. Kionid's son, in keeping with Ioriag tradition, was ordered executed; but young Ûvatha escaped and rode westward to Sturlurtsa Kha-on, the capital of Lower Kha-on. There, the Horseman earned his nickname and garnered the support of King Urig Urpof, the Lord of two-thirds of the Ioriag people. He was appointed Warlord of the main army of Lower Kha-on in S.A. 1999 and deposed the Urpof Dynasty the following year. Turning on his uncle’s domain, he crushed the horse-warriors of Upper Kha-on in S.A. 2000, uniting Kha-on for the first time in recorded history. Two years later, he accepted a Ring of Power as a gift from the King of Mordor, becoming the ninth of the nine Wraith-kings in the service of the Lord of the Rings.
Ûvatha the Nazgûl
Mordor was always an important ally of Kha-on, and the Dark Lord knew the Ioriags quite well. His evil influence perverted their already brutal culture well before the rise of Ûvatha. After the unification of Kha-on under the Horseman, though, the harsh Ioriags became one of Sauron’s most useful and most heinous tools of conquest. They assured the security of Nurn’s open eastern border and decimated the peoples that threatened Adunaphel’s rise in Near Harad. For the next twelve hundred and sixty years, Ûvatha’s people preyed on their neighbors and extended the Shadow to the south and north of their plateau kingdom.Ioriags controlled the trade along the Ered Harmal, and vied with the powerful Númenóreans for the hearts of Harad’s Merchant princes.
In S.A. 3259, the Horseman led his main battle army across Relmether and over the Talathrant. For the next two years, the Ioriags fought beside the Chailûza warriors of the Ulair Ren the Unclean, leading to the Chailûza conquest of the Khargagis Ahar. Ûvatha’s warriors received half of the booty exacted from the defeated Ahar and then returned home to Kha-on. Just as they arrived, however, the first armada of the Númenórean King Ar-Pharazon arrived at Um. Their invasion and the subsequent overwhelming show of Adan arms led to the surrender of Sauron of Mordor a year later (S.A. 3262). As the Sauron resided as a captive on the island continent of Númenor, the Ioriag King hid from the forces of Westernesse in his secretive hold at later Olbamarl in the mountains of northern Kha-on.
The Dark Lord resumed his reign in Mordor in S.A. 3319 after the Downfall of Númenor. Ûvatha came out of hiding and went into Mordor in order to serve his master. Acting as Sauron’s Messenger, the Horseman participated in the campaigns waged by Sauron’s troops in Rhovanion and Ithilien beginning in S.A. 3429. Ûvatha was at the Dark Tower in S.A. 3434 when it was besieged by the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, and he passed into the Shadows when the Barad-dûr fell and Sauron lost his Ruling Ring at the end of the Second Age (S.A. 3441).
The Third Age
Ûvatha reappeared in Middle-earth around T.A. 1050, returning to his old abode at Olbamarl in the southwesternmost spur of the Ephel Duath. Fifty years later, he crowned himself King of the Variags while he stood over the bloody body of his predecessor Uonid Irbo. A five hundred and forty year (T.A. 1100-1640) reign of terror followed, as Ûvatha unleashed the unforgiving Variag tribes on the unfortunate lands to the south and north. The Empire of the Kingdom of Khand expanded rapidly across northeastern Harad and southern Rhun, and gradually extended to the western banks of the great river Talathrant and the southern shores of the Sea of Rhun. Tribute came to the Court of Ûvatha from the Nuriags of Nurad and the Asdriags of eastern Rhun - the Variags closest kin. Only the presence of two other Ulair kingdoms – the domains of Adunaphel of Near Harad and Ren of Chey Sart – prevented the Lord of Khand from laying claim to all of central Middle-earth.
Ûvatha administered his holdings through a loose but ruthless system of patronage, and his departure from Sturlurtsa Khand in T.A. 1640 marked a steady decline in Variag fortunes that lasted until his return in T.A. 1854. While the Variag King joined seven other Ringwraiths and laid the foundations for Sauron’s re-emergence in Mordor, his own minions began carving out their own fiefs. Peace settled over the Kingdom of Khand and the subject peoples gradually broke away from the Variag yoke.
The erosion of Variag power incensed Ûvatha and worried the Sauron, so the Horseman rode back to Khand and resumed his rule. This act set the Sauron’s plan in motion, for it served as the catalyst that stirred the chain of events resulting in the first Easterling migration into Rhovanion. Ûvatha quickly re-ordered his elite retainers, crushed the local lords who appeared self-serving, reassembled his cavalry army, and began a vicious campaign of reconquest.
The Nuriags became the first victims of his vengeful wrath and, as they retreated northward into Rhun to escape their more powerful cousins, the relatively brutal tribes of Nurad drove the peoples they encountered westward. Asdriag groups migrated across the Talath Harroch (S. “South Horse Plain”) of southern Rhovanion, while the Sagath and Logath confederations moved west along the shores of the Inland Sea. The latter migrated in great wagons and came to be known by the Northmen and Gondorians as the Wainriders. Pushing into Rhovanion, they battled the Kingdom of Gondor and its Northman allies for forty-three years (T.A. 1856-99) before facing the Dunedain across the Anduin. Sauron’s plot to destroy Gondor’s hold on Rhovanion succeeded brilliantly, without betraying the presence of the Lord of the Rings.
Ûvatha returned to Mordor in T.A. 1940, creating turmoil in Khand. Unfortunately for the Variags, his departure from his homeland coincided with a new threat from the East. A collection of fierce Igath tribes, the easternmost of the Wainrider confederations, pushed through the Gap of Khand in search of new pastures. This set the stage for the rise of Ovathar Achef (Ovatha I). A descendant of Ûvatha, Ovatha laid claim to the Variag throne by solving the dilemma presented by the multitudinous Igath. He rode east and met with Avas III, the High-chieftain of the Wainriders, offering them free passage through Khand in exchange for peace. The Igath balked, citing the difficulties he would encounter if he were forced to face Gondor alone. Ovatha then proposed an alliance between the two nations and the neighboring Haradrim. The Igath, Haradrim and Variags marched together towards Ithilien in T.A. 1944, hoping to crush Gondor, while the Gondorians faced the threat of another Wainrider army in the north. It was a brilliant plan, but the undisciplined horde led by Avas and Ovatha was defeated by Gondor’s Southern Army. The tactical mastery of Earnil II prevailed, ending the threat created by Ovatha’s diplomacy.
In T.A. 2000, Ûvatha joined the other Nazgûl for the surprise attack on Minas Ithil. The Horseman remained for the two-year siege that followed, but he returned to Khand when the marble fortress finally fell. His arrival home in T.A. 2003 marked the beginning of his last reign as King of the Variags.
Threatened by the White Council, Sauron left his fortress at Dol Guldur in T.A. 2941 and returned to Mordor. He made his presence known ten years later, when he announced himself as the King of Men and ordered the rebuilding of Barad-dûr. As the stones began rising from the magical foundation of the Dark Tower in T.A. 2951, Ûvatha and two other Ringwraiths (Khamul and Adunaphel) flew back to Dol Guldur and reopened the citadel.
The Horseman served and Sauron’s best link to the Hill of Sorcery, and he made frequent journeys to both Barad-dûr and Minas Morgul. For the next sixty-seven years, Ûvatha acted as a tireless courier carrying message between Khamul, the Witch-king and the Sauron. This permitted Sauron to plan the buildup of the two armies he assembled outside of Gorgoroth (those of Dol Guldur and Minas Morgul). Both of these forces attacked the Free Peoples in mid T.A. 3018, starting the War of the Ring. Khamul commanded the forces based in Mirkwood and gave the Variag King a command in the abortive strike against Thranduil’s Elven realm in northern Mirkwood.
Following his defeat, Ûvatha rode with Khamul and Adunaphel south during their search for the One Ring. The Black Riders travelled into the Nan Anduin, where they joined the Witch-King and the other five Ulairi on their quest to find the Shire. First they looked near the Gladden fields, but then turned south, skirted Lorien and rode through Rohan and past Isengard into Eriador. Their sojourn carried them through Tharbad on the Gwathlo and into Cardolan. Splitting at the junction with the road to the land of the Hobbits, three Nazgûl (Hoarmurath, Adunaphel and Khamul) rode toward the Stone Ford; the Witch-King and the other Riders went north through Andrath and onto Bree. Ûvatha traveled with the main group, but broke away near Bree in order to deliver the Black Captain’s orders to Khamul and the other two Nazgûl that chased the Hobbits east through the Green Hill country and Buckland.
After the Variag King rendezvoused with Khamul’s party on the Great East Road beyond Bree, he rode with the three Ringwraiths to Dyr Erib (S. “The Lone Lands”), where they met their five brethren. Riding the Hobbits down at the Bruinen Ford near Rivendell, the nine Wraith-kings found themselves engulfed in the magical floodwaters that Elrond summoned to safeguard the Hobbits’ flight. Ûvatha, the fastest and most impetuous of the Nine, was almost to the east bank when he was swept away in the torrent.
Ûvatha returned to Dol Guldur after the embarrassing defeat at the Bruinen Ford. There, he mounted a Fell Beast and resumed his role as Sauron’s messenger. His subsequent flights insured the coordination of the Nazgûls’ search for the Ring and the simultaneous mobilization of Sauron’s three principal armies. Ûvatha flew south to Mordor for the last time as Khamul and Adunaphel led their two columns out of Dol Guldur, beneath the dark canopy of Mirkwood.
The Horseman arrived at the Dark Tower as the Witch-King began the assault on Minas Tirith, and he remained with Sauron until the opening of the Battle of Morannon. He then flew as one of the eight Nazgûl that fought the Great Eagles above the parched battle plain where the vast Host of Mordor engulfed the army of the Free Peoples. His fate was not decided at Morannon, however, for Ûvatha and the other Ringwraiths broke off the engagement in order to stop Frodo and Sam from destroying the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. Flying south toward the Orodruin when the One Ring was unmade, the Variag King perished with his compatriots in the epic cataclysm that ended Sauron’s presence in Ea.
- Games Workshop - The Lord of the Rings: Strategy Battle Game
- MERP:Lords of Middle-earth Vol II:The Mannish Races