The Second of the Nazgûl, also known as The Second of the Nine (Q." Ulaire Attea") and The Black Easterling or the Shadow from the East was the second mightiest of the nine Ringwraiths. For some time, the Wise believed him to be the entity behind the Necromancer of Dol Guldur until Gandalf revealed that the Necromancer was in fact Sauron returned. However, the Black Easterling later continued his role as the Keeper of Dol Guldur, as his Master´s vice-regent in Rhovanion.
The Second of the Nine's origin is unknown, but fragmented written records, the so called Parma Úlairion, have preserved an old Legend about a mighty Easterling Lord, however it is unknown if this legend - or how much of it - is true.
Names, Identities, and Titles
- the Black Easterling
- the Black Predator
- the Dragon-King - Khamûl´s title as High-King of Womawas Drus, and possibly later as Head of the Golden Army.
- the Keeper of Dol Guldur - Khamûl´s title as puppet-ruler of the Necromancer
- Khamûl - supposedly Khamûl´s name in the Black Speech
- Kómul - according to Legend, Khamûl´s birth-name in the Farthest East
- Khamûl the Easterling
- the Second Chief
- Second of the Nine
- the Shadow of the East
- Ulaire Attea - Khamûl´s name among the High-Elves
The Legend of the Black Easterling
The Origin of Khamûl
Born at Laeg Goak in the Farthest East in S.A. 1744, Kómul (Wm."Spirit-Man") was the eldest son of Mûl Tanûl, the High-lord (Wm. “Hionvor”) of the Womaw. His mother, Klea-shay, was popular despite her Shay heritage, but died while the young heir was only seven; Tanûl’s Elven councilor Dardarian reared Kómul and served as his principal adviser until he assumed the throne of Wômawas Drûs in S.A 1844. Kómul’s relationship with the manipulative Dardarian corrupted his outlook and led to his incessant longing for immortality.
As Hionvor and Mûl (Wm. “King”) of the Wômaw kingdom, Kómul I presided over the strongest realm in eastern Middle-earth. His people had descended from the remnants of the First Tribe of Cuivienen (Q. “Awakening Water”), the same lineage that produced the Edain of western Middle-earth. Elven blood coursed through the veins of Wômaw Hiona (Wm. “Lords;” sing. “Hion”), and their mastery over other Men was spurred in part by their longevity. Heavily influenced by the Avari, the Wômaw of Kómul’s day practiced both Wood and Word magic and enjoyed the benefit of a rich and practical cultural tradition. Their political and military sophistication enabled them to dominate the eastern coasts of Middle-earth for thousands of years. This hegemony withstood its strongest test during the middle of the Second Age, but Kómul I was lost in the struggle.
The distant Númenórean cousins of the Wômaw comprised the only group of Men who could challenge the supremacy of Womawas Drus, and as early as S.A. 900, the Dunedain established trade embassies in Wômaw influenced territories. During the next 650 years, the Númenóreans swayed many of the Wômaw’s southern neighbors and built fortified colonies in the isles of southeastern Middle-earth. The Men of Númenor forced Wômaw concessions and threatened the stability of the eastern kingdom. By the 150th year of Kómul I’s stormy, militaristic reign (S.A. 1994), Wômawas Drûs appeared resigned to outside domination and many of the Wômaw Hiona had disclaimed their allegiance to the High-lord. Proud and desperate, Kómul sought help elsewhere and turned to his age-old ally Dardarian.
Dardarian met Kómul at the Isle of Sunrises, at the easternmost point in the Middle Land. There, the Elf-queen seduced her stepson, using her exceptional beauty and charm and, most importantly, an offer of immortality. Kómul agreed to an alliance between the Wômaw and Dardarien’s Avar kingdom of Helkanen. This union led to Númenórean concessions (under the First Acknowledgement) the following year, preventing any outright conquest and relegating Dunadan interests to centers of commercial rather than strategic value.
Unfortunately for the Wômaw, Dardarian’s pact led to the downfall of the Hionvor. Unbeknownst to Kómul I, Dardarian served Sauron of Mordor. In S.A. 1996, only a year after the First Acknowledgement, Kómul accepted the instrument that conferred the gift promised by his lover. Taking one of the Nine Rings of Men, Kómul became the immortal slave of the Lord of the Rings. His reign over Wômawas Drûs ended abruptly.
Kómul I disappeared from Laeg Goak in the spring of S.A. 1997, after nearly seven months of virtual isolation from his people and his court. These seven months were marked by palace intrigue and a bloody transition to a new order. Over three dozen of the Hionvor’s trusted advisers perished in a purge that nearly ruined the kingdom. The outer Hiona gathered in preparation for a revolt, and Kómul departed in favor of a Númenórean supported faction led by his cousin Âon. Almost no one in Wômawas Drûs realized the critical nature of their King’s abdication, but Kómul’s dethronement probably saved the Wômaw from the Shadow. The deposed monarch could do little more than swear a vengeful oath, a curse that he would act upon a millennia later.
Khamûl the RingwraithKómul appeared at Barad-dûr in Mordor around S.A. 2000. He was known thereafter as Khamûl, in accordance with the Black Speech pronunciation of his given name. While at Barad-dûr, he served Sauron as the Master of the Hold, and his responsibilities included administering the maintenance of the citadel and its garrison. This ward-ship remained in his capable hands until S.A. 3350, when Urzahil of Umbar became the Mouth of Sauron and the Lieutenant of the Tower.
Khamûl fled Mordor when Sauron was captured in S.A. 3262. Retreating into the East, he first went to Nûrad and, after a brief stay, he proceeded into the Shay lands of his mother’s people. He remained among the Shay until S.A. 3319, cultivating a network of servants whose greed fomented a sundering of the Five Tribes. This corruption continued after Khamûl returned to Mordor, and by S.A. 3400 Khamûl’s agent Monarlan brought three of the tribes under the Shadow.
The Easterling remained in Mordor during the War of the Last Alliance (S.A. 3429-3441), sallying forth only during the campaign in Ithilien that opened the conflict. During the first four and a half years, he resided at Lug Ghurzun (BS. “Darkland Tower”) in eastern Nurn (BS. “Ghurzun”); but in S.A. 3434 the army of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men forced its way through Udun, so Khamûl returned to his Master’s side. The Ringwraith stole into Barad-dûr during the night before the outset of the long siege.
When the Barad-dûr fell in S.A. 3441, the Nazgûl met the vanguard of the Elven host and fought a long, brutal melee. Unprotected, Sauron was forced to engage his foes in personal combat. This proved to be his undoing for, although he slew both Elendil the Tall and Gil-galad, he lost his One Ring (and his ring finger) in the fray, and his spirit passed into the Shadow World.
The Third Age
With the departure of the Lord of the Rings, the Nine lost the ability to maintain form. They followed the Dark Lord into Shadow as the Second Age ended. Their exile coincided with Sauron’s and lasted over a thousand years. The first to return in re-assumed form in Middle-earth around T.A. 1050, some fifty years after the reappearance of Sauron.
Unlike his brethren, Khamûl briefly took up residence with Sauron at the citadel of Dol Guldur in southern Mirkwood. The Dark Lord hid behind the guise of the “Necromancer” and slowly rebuilt his strength. Then, about T.A. 1300, he renewed his struggle against the Free Peoples, sending the Witch-King to Angmar in the northwest Misty Mountains in hopes of crushing the successor states of Arnor.
Khamûl left his command of Dol Guldur’s garrison upon the departure of the Witch-King, and for the next 340 years the Easterling lived at Sart and Mang in the Mountains of the Wind. From these two rocky strongholds, he sought to gain sway over the peoples of southeastern Middle-earth. Often working in unison with Dwar of Waw, Khamûl fought the influences of the Istari Alatar and Pallando and vied with the Blue Wizards for control of the region. His success was only partial but, by T.A. 1635, the Dark Lord was satisfied and ordered him back to Dol Guldur.
Khamûl’s arrival coincided with the advent of the Great Plague that ravaged northwest Middle-earth, so for the next four years he stayed in Rhovanion as Sauron’s chief servant. He was keeper of Dol Guldur and remained in residence there until the end of the Watch on Mordor in T.A. 1640. Late that year, he entered Mordor and began work on rebuilding the Sauron’s domain. Three hundred and sixty years later, he accompanied the other Nine in the surprise assault against Minas Ithil. Two years later, the Ulairi took the surrounded city for the Dark Lord, capturing its Palantir. Minas Ithil became the home of the Ringwraiths and was henceforth called Minas Morgul.
After Gandalf threatened to uncover Sauron’s deception as the Necromancer of Dol Guldur, the Dark Lord went into the East. Residing in Chey lands, Sauron bided his time and expanded his dominion over the Men of eastern Middle-earth. These so-called quiet years in the west constituted the era of the Watchful Peace (T.A. 2063-2460). During this time, the people of Khamûl’s mother, the Shay, fell under the Shadow. Khamûl’s father’s people opposed the Dark Lord, but they lost most of their kingdom in a series of dire wars. Finally, Khamûl the Easterling left Minas Morgul and returned home to Goak in northwestern Middle-earth. He entered the defeated realm of his forefathers after crushing the Wômaw in the snows of Yule in T.A. 2400.
Sauron returned to the West three years before Deagol found the lost One Ring at the Gladden Fields. Khamûl followed, having decimated the strength of Wômawas Drûs. He left the once splendid lands east of the Orocarni (S. “Red Mountains”) in the hands of Sauron’s brutal nomadic vassals, and returned to Minas Morgul. During his frequent trips to Dol Guldur, the Easterling continued his close association there, as well as his relative independence from the Witch-King. On one such visit during Sauron’s last stay at Dol Guldur (T.A. 2460-2941), Khamûl’s warriors captured the Dwarf-lord Thrain II and took his Ring of Power. From T.A. 2845 to T.A. 2850, the Easterling tortured his Dwarven captive, but during the last year of his imprisonment Thrain II gave Gandalf the key to the side entry into Erebor (S. “Lonely Mountain”). The failure of the citadel’s guard to stop the wizard’s covert entry – coupled with Khamûl’s inability to derive concessions from the Dwarf-king – led the Dark Lord to chastise the Ringwraith, but the Easterling remained one of Sauron’s four most powerful servants (the others being the Witch-King, Gothmog and the Mouth of Sauron).
In anticipation of the White Council’s attack on Dol Guldur, Sauron briefly abandoned his hold in southern Mirkwood in T.A. 2941, retreating to Barad-dûr. From that time onward, he stepped up his search for the Ruling Ring and labored to prepare for the conquest of the West. Ten years later, Sauron felt comfortable enough to openly declare himself once again and, following his proclamation, he ordered his minions to reopen Dol Guldur. Khamûl went northward to the fortress with Adunaphel, where he kept watch on Rhovanion and, more importantly, Lórien. He communicated with the Dark Lord via Uvatha, the ninth Nazgûl and the Easterling’s chosen envoy. The Witch-King and the other five of the Nine stayed in Minas Morgul, awaiting the coming conflagration.
War clouds gathered quickly and loomed ready to break by T.A. 3017. Then came the catalyst – the capture of the Stoor Gollum (Smeagol) in Mordor. Sauron learned little of immediate value, but realized the worth of the fallen Hobbit, knowing that Gollum’s insatiable quest for the One Ring would eventually lead him to his long lost prize. The Dark Lord’s plan went awry, though, when Gollum fell into the hands of the Ranger Aragorn. Seeing the threat presented by the enemies’ discovery of the Ruling Ring, Sauron resolved to act before a rival could come to the fore.
In the late spring of T.A. 3018, the Witch-king and the Nazgûl occupying Minas Morgul led an army down the Ithilduin Valley and into Ithilien. Their foray swept away the few Gondorian defenders that stood vigil over the ruins of Osgiliath, and the servants of Mordor broke the giant bridge that spanned the mighty Anduin. Despite the surprise and fury of the onslaught, however, Gondor’s army gathered on the western side of the Great River, standing firm against any further advance.
As the battle raged in Ithilien, Khamûl and Adunaphel led the Orcs of Dol Guldur against Thranduil’s Elf-kingdom in northern Mirkwood. Their plan was to crush the Silvan Elves and capture Gollum, but the scale of their assault proved too modest to afford any significant victory. As the Elves melted northward through the wood, they inflicted tremendous losses on Khamûl’s underlings.
Sauron tested his enemies with this two-pronged offensive, but his ultimate purpose was to conceal the further exploits of his Ringwraiths. The Evil One hoped to tie his armies’ movements to those of the Nine, thereby misleading the leaders of the Free Peoples. Within weeks, the Nine gathered for their principal mission and set out across the Anduin in search of the Hobbit that held the Ruling Ring.
Khamûl rode with the other eight Black Riders up the Nan Anduin in hope of finding the Shire near the Gladden Fields. Unfortunately, their quest proved to be a time-consuming detour, for they found only ruins of an ancient Stoor settlement, together with a few abandoned homes that had enjoyed recent use. They failed to find the Shire, but realized that it must be in Eriador. Turning southward they skirted Lórien and rode through Rohan and past Isengard. Their search took them to Tharbad and up the Greenway to the crossroads that served as the junction with the road to the land of the Hobbits. There, Khamûl, Adunaphel and Hoarmurath split from the main party and rode toward the Iach Sarn (S. “Stone Ford”; also “Athrad Sarn”) and on to Sackville. The Witch-King and the other Riders went directly north toward Andrath and Bree.
Khamûl’s party crossed paths with the Hobbits in the Green Hill Country and the Easterling’s keen sense of smell nearly uncovered Frodo’s hiding place below the road, but the Halflings escaped and the three Riders did not see them again until the encounter at the Bruinen Ford. Although Khamûl and his companions tracked them through Buckland (where they entered the Bolger yard in Crickhollow), they failed to run down the elusive Hobbits.
The Easterling’s party joined Uvatha on the road east of Bree and rode toward the Lone Lands, where they met the other five Ringwraiths. Racing the Company in hope of cutting them off from the safety of Rivendell, the Riders found their prey at the banks of the Bruinen. There, Khamûl avoided the initial rush of the waters summoned by Elrond; however, his horse panicked like the others and died in the gushing stream.
Following the debacle near Rivendell, Khamûl and Adûnaphel returned to Dol Guldur and prepared for the war. Their orders were simple, but their mission was ambitious: Sauron charged the Orcs of Dol Guldur with the task of crushing the Elf-kingdoms in Lórien and northern Mirkwood. Both assaults failed, forcing Khamûl and Adunaphel to retire back to Mordor just before the Battle of Morannon.
The Witch-King perished during the Battle of Pelennor Fields, and Khamûl assumed leadership over the Fell Riders during their airborne attack against the Army of the Free Peoples. Battling the Great Eagles above the chaos that gripped the barren slag-fields outside the Gates of Mordor, Khamûl faced Gwaihir himself – only to turn in apparent retreat. Sauron’s orders to stop Frodo and Sam from destroying the One Ring in Mount Doom took precedence over any challenge, and the Easterling was force to lead his fellow Ringwraiths on a fruitless flight to retrieve the Ruling Ring. Gwaihir gave pursuit but, with the destruction of the Ruling Ring, there was no need for further combat. Khamûl and his brethren passed out of Ea with their fallen Master.
- MERP:Middle-Earth Adventure Guidebook II