I watch my master, even—-especially—-when he’s ignoring me. Sometimes, when he doesn’t think I’m watching, he takes down the twig from the shelf, and looks at it.
It’s the only thing he’s got left from the old days. It was given to him by his master, who said it was all that was left of the tree of gold, and that it was bound in fire unceasing, to burn always and yet never be consumed. That was their way of paying back the enemy, so that they’d know one of their two precious trees was forever being tormented.
Usually the master just plays with it. He threatens to plant it in someone’s chest, or uses it to ignite the long blond hair of a prisoner. Occasionally he shouts at it in the old tongue—-he knows the enemy will hear what he says.
But sometimes, late at night, he’ll just stare it. He burns like fire, so touching the twig isn’t a problem for him. He’ll hold it in his hand and look out the tower window toward the west, or peer at it, touching the leaves, and sometimes sniffing it. Occasionally he’ll whisper a name, although never loud enough for me to hear it.
His eyes burn like fire, too, so whatever tears come out instantly turn to steam.
Sometimes his entire head is wreathed in steam.
But I’m just the Mouth, and I never speak of that.
(The preceding was intended to be Tolkien by way of Jonathan Carroll).