When Sauron awoke, he found that he was lying on an stony slab, but over him loomed black fir boughs, and above their rotted needles dark clouds raced. All the air was full of a loathsome scent of decay.

He remembered that smell: the reek of Mirkwood. ‘Curse me!’ he mused. ‘How long have I been asleep?’ For the rank smell had borne him back to the day when he had built his first Tower on a rocky height; and for a moment all else between was out of waking memory. He stretched and drew a deep breath. ‘Why, what a nightmare I’ve had!’ he muttered. ‘I am glad to wake!’ He sat up and then he saw his hand resting upon the coverlet. It was a black hand, and the third finger was missing.

Full memory flooded back, and Sauron cried aloud: ‘It wasn’t a nightmare! Then where am I?’

And a voice hissed softly behind: ‘In the forest of Mirkwood, and in the keeping of  your servants; and we await you.’ With that the Witch King stood before him, robed in black, his eyes now gleaming like evil stars piercing the darkest night. ‘Well, Master, how do you feel?’ he said.

But Sauron lay back, and stared with open mouth, and for a moment, between bewilderment and great rage, he could not answer. At last he gasped: ‘Angmar! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything good going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?’

‘A great Shadow has returned,’ said the Ringwraith, and then he laughed and the sound was like pain, or like acid in an open wound; and as he listened the thought came to Sauron that he had not heard evil laughter, a pure spasm of sadistic joy, for years upon years without count. It fell upon his ears like the hideous echo of all the tortures he had ever inflicted. But he himself burst into flame. Then, as a fire will rage through a sleeping village until all within are consumed, his heat subsided, and his chilling laughter rang out, and gloating he sprang from his tomb.